Nearly 680 Million LTE Handset Shipments Expected in 2015
According to a recent ABI Research, 676 million 4G LTE handsets are expected to be shipped in 2015, growing 204 million units from 2014. 350 commercial LTE networks are forecasted by 4Q 2014. Additionally, company estimates that the total number of LTE connected devices shipped worldwide will exceed 1.89 billion units by end 2019.
To cope with the demand for higher data rates operators across globe has also started trailing and deploying LTE-Advanced networks. As of today 20 commercial LTE-Advanced networks are deployed in 14 countries. ABI Research expects the number of smartphones with Category 9 or Category 10 LTE modems, which enable mobile broadband speeds in the downlink of up to 450 Mbps, to reach 64 million in 2019. These devices are not expected to be widely available in the marketplace before the end of 2016.
Category 10 modems are targeted at devices supporting at least 3 downlink (3DL) LTE Carrier Aggregation (CA) of up to 3x20 MHz 3GPP-approved channel combinations across various LTE bands and modes. 3GPP has been busy defining various 3DL LTE CA in recent quarters. The number of 3GPP work items dedicated to various 3DL inter-band and intra-band LTE combinations has reached 57 in 2Q 2014, 34 of which are targeted at the North American market.
ABI Research further adds that due to the nature of spectrum licensing in the United States, often based on 10 MHz bandwidth chunks, 3DL LTE CA networks will be largely supported by Category 6 devices in the coming 3 years. In Europe, LTE penetration is still below 14%, so operators in this region are focused on migrating subscribers to LTE rather than upgrading their networks to LTE-Advanced at a large scale, notably 3DL LTE CA. Korean and Chinese operators are likely to be the first to launch 3DL LTE CA networks enabling up to 450 Mbps.