There will be over one billion 4G connections active in the world by 2017 as demand for superfast networks rockets, according to research by GSMA Intelligence.
The organisation, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, said there are currently around 176 million connections across the globe. New markets are starting to offer 4G, such as the UK, where EE now has over one million users on its network.
This will grow massively in the next few years, with 500 operators in 128 countries expected to be offering 4G services by 2017. The GSMA’s chief strategy officer Hyunmi Yang said several factors were driving this growth.
“The timely allocation of suitable spectrum to mobile operators; the availability of affordable LTE devices; and the implementation of innovative tariffs that encourage adoption of high-speed data services,” he explained.
“Mobile operators in both developed and developing markets are seeing LTE services contributing to a significant increase in average revenue per user (ARPU).”
The growth will also be boosted by growing geographic coverage, with half the world’s population expected to have LTE access by 2017, up from a fifth at present. The US is already well ahead in this regard, with 90 percent of its population able to access 4G.
Europe is catching up, with 47 percent coverage, while Asia is much further behind on just 10 percent. This is likely due to far larger areas of emerging nations such as India and China where mobile services are only just being established, but uptake in the region could be huge in the near future.
The report also found that 4G users are far more likely to consume more data, with average monthly use at 1.5GB, almost twice that of non-4G users. Such demand makes initiatives to free up extra spectrum all the more vital.
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