The number of subscribers turning to 3G Long Term Evolution (LTE) will approach 24 million by 2012, according to research by analyst firm Juniper Research.
LTE is considered by most to be the fourth generation mobile data technology and describes a project within the Third Generation Partnership Project to improve the UMTS mobile phone standard to cope with future requirements.
Juniper's study, entitled Mobile Broadband Markets: WiMAX, EV-DO, HSPA & Beyond, 2007-2012, forecasts that LTE should be going commercial by 2010 when high-definition content could be a reality on mobile devices.
Key goals include peak download data rates up to 100Mbps, and peak upload data rates of 50Mbps within 20MHz bandwidth, as well as at least 200 active users in every 5MHz cell, and sub-five millisecond latency for small IP packets.
Despite the overlap from alternative technologies, the report predicts that HSPA will dominate mobile broadband network deployments, consistently accounting for 70 per cent of the total mobile broadband subscriber base until 2012.
"We expect 3G LTE to begin significant market traction towards 2011 or 2012, " said Howard Wilcox, the report's author.
"By 2012 we forecast that 3G LTE will represent around 24 million subscribers globally.
"As the GSM Association said recently, it is a natural follow-on from HSPA and will benefit from the extensive installed base of HSPA worldwide. Western Europe will account for over half of LTE subscribers in 2012."
However, the report warns that LTE needs to evolve to remain competitive in cost and performance relative to other leading mobile data technologies set to be foremost over the next five years.
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