Feature Article

January 28, 2016

Ovum Hits New Milestone for LTE

With 5G connectivity in the works, it might be a surprise to see news about milestones for 4G LTE coverage. However, Ovum’s latest research has revealed that one such milestone had indeed been reached, and a substantial one at that: global LTE subscriptions have reached the one billion mark.

The study found that China had actually recently passed the United States as the largest market for LTE, and both markets together accounted for over half of all subscribers. China led the way in growth in LTE, adding around half of the net additions during just the last quarter, and better than a third—35 percent—of the total.

China will be further leading the way in terms of growth, as it—along with its cohort nations known collectively as the BRIC, Brazil, Russia, India and China—continue to add further growth and reach the top 10 in the market along with Indonesia. The rapidity of growth was particularly noteworthy for Ovum, whose chief research office Mark Newman pointed out that LTE's growth took under six years to reach what W-CDMA took over 10 years to achieve. Wireless data speeds, Newman noted, have become vital to a variety of operations, and a combination of lower-cost devices and more valuable mobile broadband services mean more growth is likely to follow.

With all that growth, it's a safe bet that further growth will follow. Those who attend ITEXPO—running through today at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale—meanwhile, will see why that's the case. While there is no shortage of use cases for LTE connectivity, one major one is the use of software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN). On Thursday, January 28 at 11:00 AM, a panel called “Exploring the SD-WAN” will take place explaining the role of the SD-WAN in business operations and how 4G LTE connectivity is part of the equation.

With 5G approaching fairly quickly, and development proceeding apace, it's good to know just how far LTE has gone so far to show us where 5G will likely have to go just to keep pace. Big gains have no doubt been made since the last compilation of LTE data was taken, and a system already approaching ubiquity since then has only gained in the meantime. We're a bandwidth-hungry world—even in those nations where such development might not be expected—thanks to all the various uses of bandwidth, and we'll only want more as time goes on.

4G LTE's development has been impressive in a fairly short time, and the development of 5G will likely only improve on things from there. It's not out of line to suggest that 5G might manage to generate its first billion subscribers in three years, matching the accelerated rates seen from W-CDMA to LTE. We'll have a while to wait to see if that's the case, but clearly, a bandwidth-hungry world will only want more, and faster.



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