LTE technology, the most widely used wireless cellular technology worldwide, achieved more than 38.5 percent market share in the first quarter of 2018. With 3.2 billion global connections, a large portion of the world’s population has 4G access, according to data from Ovum. Market share represents the percentage of mobile wireless connections that are LTE technology versus all other mobile wireless technologies.

5G Americas said North America’s market share for LTE, 76 percent, exceeds all other world regions; the next highest regions are Oceania, eastern and southeastern Asia, with LTE share of 59 percent, followed by Western Europe, at 46 percent. Latin America and the Caribbean had significant growth of LTE market share to 31.5 percent at the end of the first quarter.

LTE is currently deployed on 597 networks worldwide, of which 251 are LTE-Advanced, according to the TeleGeography-GlobalComms Database. The global deployment success of LTE provides the basis for mobile broadband wireless coverage and roaming for billions of LTE subscribers worldwide.

Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas, said, “5G is on the horizon and will be built upon the most solid of foundations — LTE — which is the current workhorse for the industry and offers mobile broadband global coverage for many years to come. We are already hearing news of planned 5G deployments beginning later in 2018 and early 2019; however, LTE will continue to grow until 2022, when we will begin to see some substantial uptake in 5G connections.”

Q1 2018 — North America

LTE achieved 365 million connections and a penetration rate higher than 100 percent in March (2018) compared to the population of 364 million in the U.S and Canada. There will be no other region worldwide predicted to reach 100 percent penetration for LTE prior to the end of 2019. This rate is forecast to rise to 131 percent in 2021, after which 5G connections will begin to impact LTE subscriptions and penetration.

At the end of March 2018, the next highest world regions were: Oceania, eastern and southeastern Asia at 76 percent; Western Europe at 62 percent and then a substantial drop to Eastern Europe at 37 percent, the Middle East at 36 percent and Latin America and the Caribbean at 34 percent.

In addition to having a significantly higher penetration rate, the U.S. and Canada also have the highest market share for LTE compared to all mobile wireless technologies, at 76 percent.

  • 365 million LTE connections, an increase of 48 million annually or 15 percent growth.
  • LTE is forecast to reach 491 million connectionsn at the end of 2021, including M2M.
  • 31 million 5G connections forecast in 2021 — the largest share of 5G connections in all the global regions.

Q1 2018 — Latin America and the Caribbean

Jose Otero, director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 5G Americas, summarized the trends in the region. “LTE coverage continues to increase, reaching over 90 percent of the population in countries like Brazil, Puerto Rico and Uruguay. Operators’ investment in the technology continues as LTE-A proliferates in the region and a higher penetration of smartphones allows a greater number of individuals to have access to mobile broadband technologies. 5G trials continue to take place in the region with operators announcing the launch of the first 5G commercial network during the next 12 to 18 months.”

LTE’s market share increased from 29 to 32 percent from year-end 2017 through the end of March and is forecast to be the most widely used cellular technology in the region by the end of 2019.

  • 694 million total mobile wireless subscriptions.
  • 219 million LTE connections, with 78 million added year-over-year from Q1 2017 for 56 percent growth.
  • LTE is forecast to reach 258 million connections at the end of 2018, including M2M.
  • LTE will become the most popular cellular technology in 2019.
  • By the end of 2022, LTE is forecast to reach 500 million connections, including M2M.

Q1 2018 — Global

At the end of March, global LTE connections reached 3.2 billion, and LTE is forecast to achieve 4 billion connections in 2019 and pass 5 billion in 2021. This growth is phenomenal, in two years more than doubling from 1.5 billion LTE connections in June 2016 to 3 billion. Also, notable, LTE market share reached 38.5 percent at the end of March and will continue its aggressive rise over the coming years.

Kristin Paulin, senior analyst at Ovum, said, “Oceania, eastern and southeastern Asia regions play a significant role in the global growth of LTE subscriptions, accounting for 41 percent of all LTE subscribers by 2022, compared to 32 percent of all cellular subscribers worldwide. And it’s interesting to note that, while LTE continues to see phenomenal growth surpassing 50 percent in 2020, 5G begins to make its inroads beginning by 2022, with some regions — particularly North America and Oceania, eastern and southeastern Asia — starting to see some LTE subscriber declines as a result.”

  • 907 million new LTE subscriptions year-over-year from Q1 2017.
  • LTE connections forecast to reach 5.6 billion by year-end 2022, including M2M.
  • LTE global market share forecast to reach 60 percent by year-end 2022.