Summary:

With the fast expansion of LTE networks, we need devices to use them. And there will be plenty, according to In-Stat. The research firm is predicting that LTE handset shipments will eclipse 154 million units in 2015 with 290 million LTE subscriptions in place worldwide.

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With the fast expansion of LTE networks, we need devices to use them. And there will be plenty, according to In-Stat. The research firm is predicting that LTE handset shipments will eclipse 154 million units in 2015.

And by 2015, there will be 290 million LTE subscriptions in the world, predicts In-Stat. LTE will be part of a larger growth in cellular subscriptions, which is expected to hit 6.5 billion by 2015.

“As the number of smartphones and other mobile devices that require data connections increases, so does the need for the increased capacity provided by LTE networks,” said In-Stat’s Chris Kissel.  “There will be over 290 million LTE subscriptions by 2015.  Not only is the forecast for the number of LTE handsets moving rapidly upward, so, too, is the total number of cellular subscribers.”

Earlier this month, ABI Research predicted that 4G smartphone shipments would grow from 4.6 million in 2010 to 245 million in 2016, with LTE leading the way. LTE shipments are expected to outpace WiMAX this year, and will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 72 percent over the next five years. ABI said smartphones will drive the 4G market ahead of other devices which can handle the wireless technology.

“Nearly all of the world’s mobile operators, including the largest, are supporting LTE,” ABI Research Senior Mobile Devices Analyst Michael Morgan said in a statement. “It is an important driver for the LTE ecosystem that dwarfs any other drivers of 4G in general or of WiMax and LTE, specifically.”

A couple of other data points from In-Stat:

  • TD-SCDMA will peak in 2014 at 72 million subscriptions.
  • North American CDMA2000 EV-DO Rev A subscribers are forecast to peak in 2012.
  • Eastern European WiMAX subscribers are forecast to peak in 2014.
  • In 2014, in the Middle East and Africa, the sales of WCDMA/HSPA protocol handsets will surpass 98 million units.
As we noted earlier, LTE rollouts are accelerating, and that’s upping the pace of LTE handset shipments. In July, Deutsche Bank doubled its previous estimate for 3 million LTE handsets sold this year to 6 million. LTE still has some hurdles like battery performance concerns, which may have prevented its inclusion in the iPhone 4S. But it’s taking off now, as general interest in 4G is building and consumers are seeing more networks mature like Verizon’s, which is expected to hit 178 markets by the end of this year. AT&T is also rolling out an LTE network while Sprint is building its own LTE network starting next year.

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