Global LTE network forecasts and assumptions, 2013–17

Operators reaping rewards of mainstream 4G adoption


The global LTE market has evolved considerably since the launch of the first network in Sweden in December 2009. It is now moving to a more mature phase of development with around 230 commercial LTE networks now in operation and over one billion connections expected by 2017.

In this analysis we describe regional LTE connection trends and discuss the key drivers and assumptions behind our LTE connection forecasts, including developments in spectrum, devices, services, network coverage and the impact that LTE has on data usage and ARPU.

Mapping worldwide LTE network launches 2010/13

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Our research found that:

  • In most cases, the migration to 4G-LTE is happening considerably faster than the earlier migration from 2G to 3G
  • LTE users consume 1.5 GB of data per month on average - almost twice the average amount consumed by non-LTE users
  • In developing economies, operators have noted that LTE users can generate ARPU seven to 20 times greater than non-LTE users, while in developed markets operators have found that LTE can generate an ARPU uplift ranging from 10% to 40%
  • Four out of five mobile operators that have acquired ‘new’ spectrum since January 2010 have been allocated airwaves aimed at supporting the launch of LTE networks
  • LTE networks worldwide have been deployed in 12 different frequency bands to date, although four out of five live LTE networks today are deployed in one of four bands: 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1800 MHz or 2600 MHz
  • The average retail price (before discounts and subsidies) of LTE smartphones in developed markets such as the US has remained unchanged at around $450 for the last few years
  • Handset subsidies have contributed considerably to the increase in LTE penetration over the last two years, but operators have also become more innovative in their pricing

LTE deployments (left) and connections (right) by region, 2013/17

LTE deployments (left) and connections (right) by region, 2013/17
Source: GSMA Intelligence

PDF Download "Global LTE network forecasts and assumptions: 2013–17"


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