Number of 4G-LTE connections to pass 1 billion by 2017

26 November 2013 | Kavit Majithia


The number of 4G-LTE connections worldwide is forecast to pass 1 billion by 2017, according to new data from GSMA Intelligence.

LTE is likely to account for about one in eight total mobile connections by that point, up from 176 million LTE connections at the end of 2013.

500 LTE networks are predicted to be in service across 128 countries, approximately double the number of LTE networks in service today.

"Since the launch of the first commercial 4G-LTE networks in late 2009, we are seeing deployments accelerate across the globe," said Hyunmi Yang, CSO at the GSMA.

"Our new report highlights a number of factors that are driving LTE 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. Mobile operators in both developed and developing markets are seeing LTE services contributing to a significant increase in ARPU," she added.

According to the study, 20% of the global population is within LTE network coverage range, and as the operators continue to expand coverage, such networks are likely to be available to half the world's population by 2017.

LTE in the US already covers more than 90% of the population, compared to 47% of the coverage in Europe and 10% in Asia.

The US accounts for 46% of global LTE connections, but Asia is also expected to increase total connections by 2017, as LTE is rolled out in China and India.

In South Korea, half of the total mobile connections now run on LTE, compared to 20% in Japan and the US, making it the most advanced market in the world at present.