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LTE subscriptions tipped to reach 200 million in 2013

22 Jan 2013
Mobile spectrum antenna

The number of Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband subscriptions will almost reach 200 million this year, according to analysts.

Research firm IHS said that the wireless broadband standard could see its user base double over the course of the year, thanks to international growth and the increasing sophistication of the platform.

The company estimates that worldwide, LTE networks count some 92.3 million subscribers entering the new calendar year. The company believes that the 100 million subscriber mark will soon be surpassed and by the end of the year there could be some 198.1 million.

When the LTE market first launched in 2010, the first estimates that it counted just 612,000 subscribers.

While much of the recent growth has occurred in Europe and Asia, analysts noted that the US has also driven growth of late.

"Rapid adoption will drive design innovations, particularly in smartphones, but issues like spectrum fragmentation will also remain an overhang for the LTE industry that requires attention," said IHS senior wireless communications analyst Wayne Lam.

"Overall, however, the LTE space will be less worried about rifts or divisions in technology, and more concerned with laying the foundation for sustained growth across the entire LTE landscape."

The company projects that within three years, total subscriptions will surpass the one billion threshold. Annual growth over that time is slated to remain strong at 139 percent.

While 4G is expected to continue to be a popular platform in the Asian, the US and Western European markets, 3G networks are not likely to disappear any time soon.

With a newer infrastructure and a market accustomed to budget-priced handsets, industry executives believe that 3G will remain popular for much of the developing world.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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