LTE subscriptions passed the 1 billion subscription mark during the final quarter of 2015 and are set to continue strong double-digit growth for the next five years, according to global analyst firm Ovum.

Ovum’s latest research* reveals that the overall count is top heavy, with five countries accounting for nearly three-quarters of all subscriptions. China is by far the biggest driver for growth, accounting for half of net additions during the last quarter and 35 percent of the total.  


Figure 1:  LTE subscription shares by country, 2015 vs. 2020

Growth will remain robust through 2020, as China’s fellow BRIC members and Indonesia rise into the top 10 to dominate net additions and maintain annual LTE subscription growth rates well above 20 percent.  Of particular significance is the rapid rate of LTE adoption, which has taken around half as long as W-CDMA to reach various milestones. 

Ovum’s chief research officer, Mark Newman, notes, “Reaching 1 billion LTE subscriptions has taken less than 6 years compared with more than 10 years required for W-CDMA. This highlights just how critical wireless data speeds have become, as operators aggressively roll out 4G networks to meet consumer demand for capacity, which continues unabated.”

“We also see LTE subscriptions doubling by 2017 and tripling by 2019 as smartphones become cheaper and mobile broadband services become more and more indispensable.  Indeed, today’s majority 2G subscribers will become a rarity, with 3G and 4G accounting for 85 percent of all subscriptions by end-2020,” concludes Newman.   



* World Cellular Information Service