Worldwide 4G LTE subscribers will double this year, analyst says

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In a world where seemingly everyone is using a smartphone, 4G LTE usage is expected to double this year. This prediction comes from a study published by IHS iSuppli this week, which indicates that LTE subscribers worldwide will reach almost 200 million.

To be exact, the number of LTE users around the globe could hit 198.1 million in 2013, which is a significant increase from the 92.3 million users recorded last year. This wireless technology is only about three years old and had 612,000 users when it began in 2010, according to IHS.

LTE usage worldwide surged the following year after its launch, jumping by 22 percent to 13.2 million users in 2011. It saw an unprecedented growth from 13.2 million to nearly 100 million users in 2012, marking an increase of 599 percent. In just another four years, the technology is expecting to surpass one billion subscribers.

“With LTE emerging as a true global technology standard, its ecosystem now faces both challenges and opportunities,” analyst Wayne Lam said in a statement. “Rapid adoption will drive design innovations, particularly in smartphones, but issues like spectrum fragmentation will also remain an overhang for the LTE industry that requires attention.”

The major focus in the next few years will be on making 4G LTE the norm for smartphone users, Lam continued.

“Overall, however, the LTE space will be less worried about rifts or divisions in technology, and more concerned with laying the foundation for sustained growth across the entire LTE landscape,” he said in the report.

To no surprise, LTE expansion is directly related to the evolving smartphone industry. Over the past couple of years, LTE has spread as a result of various upgrades in hardware and software.

“This is because more than any other type of phone, smartphones are able to take further advantage of the faster data connectivity provided by LTE, which leverages the kind of low-latency, always-on mobile broadband service that consumers now demand.”

Most high end smartphones available on the market are 4G LTE enabled, such as Samsung and Apple’s flagship products as well as smart devices from HTC and Motorola among others. It won’t be long before the majority of handsets come with LTE, causing carriers to roll out the high-speed technology across more regions.