ABI Research forecasts LTE will grow from approximately 30 percent of global mobile subscriptions in 2017 to 50 percent in 2024. The most advanced LTE service, Gigabit LTE, is expected to near two million subscriptions globally in 2017, which is less than 5 percent of LTE Advanced Pro subscriptions in 2017. Gigabit LTE devices, launched in 2017, will far exceed the subscription numbers, as few cell sites are expected to reach Gigabit LTE speeds in 2017. Gigabit LTE is a pivotal piece of an advanced 4G mobile network that can support an operator’s mobile service goals over the next six to eight years and beyond.
“Gigabit LTE is a specific configuration of the LTE Advanced Pro standard and is expected to account for 70 percent of LTE Advanced Pro subscriptions by 2026,” says Prayerna Raina, senior analyst at ABI Research. “It is a critical network milestone for operators in an increasingly competitive environment in the evolution to 5G. It is essential for operators to support the ever-rising bandwidth needs of consumers, while also upgrading the network to support 5G networks in future.”
As Gigabit LTE offers higher bandwidth to consumers and very efficient use of spectrum for operators, ABI Research expect more operators to launch Gigabit LTE globally over the next year and a half. Sprint launched the first Gigabit LTE service for mobile devices was in New Orleans in March 2017. Telstra launched a Gigabit LTE mobile hotspot service in Sydney, Australia in February 2017, and is expected to support Gigabit LTE mobile devices as they become available. Monaco Telecom launched a mobile Gigabit LTE service in April 2017. ABI Research expects additional launches to take place this year from all key operators in the U.S., as well as by some operators in Asia, Europe and Canada.
“Today, operators globally are in various stages of upgrading their LTE networks,” concludes Raina. “Over the next four to six years, we expect mobile networks to evolve considerably with the proliferation of LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro and Gigabit LTE on one hand and the launch of 5G on the other hand. The vendor ecosystem is essential to this network evolution with device availability being critical for the service launch. It is, therefore, imperative for vendors to align their competitive strategies with the operators’ network transition timeline as well as alliances in the ecosystem.”