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Summary:

In June of 2012 there were only 27 million LTE connections in the world, but by the end of December that number will be at 176 million, according to GSMA Intelligence.

This year was a good year for LTE subscriber growth. According GSMA Intelligence, the GSM Association’s research arm, global mobile carriers are on pace to end the year with 176 million LTE connections. That growth is significant, considering the GSMA recorded 100 million LTE connections in May, and there were only a measly 27 million total LTE links in June of 2012.

Some 46 percent of those subscribers will be in the U.S., where all four nationwide operators have launched new 4G networks, the new GSMA report found. But the leader in LTE adoption is South Korea, which has converted half of its connections over to the new technology. LTE penetration in the U.S. is about 20 percent, but the U.S. has a much larger population.

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In fact, the 4G landscape is still dominated by those two countries plus Japan, accounting for 80 percent of all connections. But a lot of new LTE networks have gone online this year in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. The GSMA now calculates that 20 percent of the world’s population is touched by an LTE signal. As carriers running those networks start bringing 4G subscribers aboard, LTE connections will become more evenly distributed.

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The GSMA is revising its four-year projections up from 900 million to 1 billion LTE subscribers in 2017. If the GSMA is right, that would mean one out of every eight mobile links would be through an LTE radio.

  1. having traveled extensively i will say that even though the US may have more widespread LTE that does nor necessarily make for a better experience. 3G networks in Europe have been in my experience far more stable and reliable than anything in the US LTE or not. i have never had any issues with VOIP on networks in Europe even in moving vehicles, I can not say the same in the US.

    while speedtests may look impressive i do not ever need anything above 1 mbps on mobile, what i do want is for the connection to never get super slow amd jittery from congestion, qos or any other reason.

    i am not sure what the difference is but i suspect it has to do with the back haul and core network designs.

    also if holding back on LTE deployment can help carriers keep retail prices down that would be beneficial for consumers. t-mobile HSPA+ is pretty dam good, as a t-mobile customer i would much rather see lower monthly rates and/or larger data cap sizes than LTE, especially if the move to LTE is primarily for marketing reasons which i suspect to be the case.

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    1. i am not suggesting carriers should never upgrade but that if things are good enough, it would be cheaper to wait since prices will come down and the savings could be used to discount services or improve backhaul to allow larger data caps.

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