One billion 4G connections expected for 2017

America is currently the largest user of 4G data in terms of sheer numbers, although South Korea had the highest proportion of population signed up

James Vincent
Tuesday 26 November 2013 12:36

UK users have adopted 4G pretty enthusiastically (EE noted that they hit the one million users four months ahead of schedule this September) but a new study predicts that the world will soon be catching up, with one billion connections to the high speed mobile network predicted by 2017.

As mobile devices continue to take over from regular PCs, becoming – for some – the primary means of accessing the internet, the demand for better connections will increase, pushing more users to make the switch from 3G to 4G mobile.

A new study by GSMA Intelligence predicts that in less than four years’ time one in every eight mobile connections will be using high-speed LTE services. This will be accompanied by a doubling in the number of networks offering the higher speeds, with 465 providers predicted across 128 countries.

Hyunmi Yang, chief strategy officer with GSMA, noted that a number of factors were encouraging this growth:“The timely allocation of suitable spectrum to mobile operators; the availability of affordable LTE devices; and the implementation of innovative tariffs that encourage adoption of high-speed data services.”

GSMA’s study calculates that around 20 per cent of the global population is currently within range of an LTE network, with this figure reportedly expanding to half the world’s population by 2017.

The US is currently the single largest user of 4G mobile in terms of sheer numbers (46 per cent of global users are based in America) although as a percentage of total population South Korea is far more advanced, with around half of all mobile connections in the country currently connected to LTE.

The report also throws up a number of data points that make for encouraging reading for mobile networks. 4G users not only consume twice as much data as regular connections, but they also pay out more to providers, with average revenue per user (ARPU) rising from 10 to 40 per cent per for 4G adopters.

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