4G Americas reports that the milestone of one billion connections for HSPA and LTE mobile broadband technologies is expected to be achieved at the end of March 2012 and in two years that number will double to two billion, based on data from Informa Telecoms & Media.
The Americas region remains a key contributor to the rapidly approaching one billion milestone with more than 250 million HSPA and LTE subscriptions forecasted for the region by the end of 2012; that number will more than double by 2015, and will reach more than 700 million subscriptions by 2016. 4G Americas also estimates that there will be more than 100 LTE commercial networks operating by year-end 2012.
“The accelerator is pressed to the floor and mobile broadband is rapidly increasing its share of the overall wireless market worldwide,” said Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas. “The ecosystem supporting 3GPP technologies, including HSPA and LTE, is unparalleled. The only ‘if’ in the current industry progress relates to the essential resource of spectrum – without it growth and development will slow.”
As an example, the U.S. is today’s leading market for LTE, a high bandwidth flat architecture technology that delivers the best efficiencies for spectral capacity. It is flexible in that deployments may occur in spectrum bands as small as 1.4 MHz; however, the best performance for spectral efficiency will occur in wider bandwidths such as 10 MHz to 20 MHz. Without appropriate spectrum allocations, a network operator will be limited in their ability to deliver optimal spectral efficiency. U.S. subscribers are among the world’s highest users of mobile data, and at the same time the U.S. has one of the lowest per subscriber allocations for spectral resources.
“Latin America has issues and concerns similar to the U.S. regarding spectrum allocation and expeditious auction processes,” stated Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean at 4G Americas. “The governments in the region are working to bring out more spectrum in free market-oriented auctions. In order to incentivize the sizable investments required by operators, 4G Americas emphasizes the importance of fair and transparent rules for auctioning as well as the international harmonization of spectrum bands throughout the Americas region.”
Latin America will have an expected 118 million HSPA subscriptions by the end of 2012 compared to 133 million HSPA and LTE subscriptions in the U.S. and Canada. This will put all the Americas at a milestone of a quarter of a billion 3GPP mobile broadband subscriptions. By the end of 2013, HSPA and LTE subscriptions in Latin America are forecasted to increase to 181 million and exceed the North America forecast of 160 million. There are currently 72 commercial HSPA deployments in 31 countries in Latin America and of those networks, 31 have been upgraded to HSPA+ in 19 countries. In addition, there are 5 commercial LTE networks in Latin America both in FDD and TDD modes, and estimated that there will be 300,000 connections on LTE networks in the region at the end of 2012. Latin America may reach a forecasted 455 million 3GPP mobile broadband connections by the end of 2016 while North America reaches more than 251 million, together approaching three quarters of a billion 3GPP mobile broadband connections.
LTE technologies have skyrocketed in deployments and subscriptions on a worldwide basis. LTE is commercial on 57 networks in 34 countries with more than 100 total commercial networks expected by the end of 2012. With 22 million connections forecasted for LTE worldwide by year-end 2012, that number will grow to an estimated 63 million in one year, and expand sevenfold to 156 million at the end of 2014, according to Informa’s research.
Pearson added, “LTE is an all-IP packet-based technology with the highest spectral efficiency of any standardized wireless technology, making it an essential tool for operators as mobile broadband becomes ubiquitous and data demand increases exponentially.”