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US remains at forefront of LTE service adoption

15 Mar 2012

New data from TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database reveal that the United States remains at the forefront of Long Term Evolution (LTE) service adoption globally. In Q4 2011 the US had just over 5.6 million LTE subscribers, comprising 64% of the 8.8 million users globally. Japan follows with 1.1 million LTE subscribers, or 13% of the global total, and South Korea ranks third with 740,000 subscribers, accounting for 8% of the worldwide figure.

US LTE subscriber growth has been spectacular, increasing nearly 8,000%, from just 70,000 subscribers in Q4 2010. This is mostly attributable to the aggressive LTE deployment and marketing strategy of Verizon Wireless. Although the US currently has four live LTE networks, Verizon accounts for 97% of the country’s LTE subscribers, and an astonishing 62% of the global LTE user base. Instead of gradually deploying LTE network infrastructure on a market-by-market basis, Verizon committed to a large-scale rollout in December 2010, launching its service simultaneously in 38 cities to a combined population of 110 million. By March 2012 Verizon’s LTE service covered 196 cities and more than 200 million people.

The availability of LTE-compatible devices has also facilitated the adoption of LTE services in the US. When Verizon launched its LTE network in Q4 2010, the company offered two compatible USB modems, as well as ten other LTE consumer devices, including smartphones, tablets, mobile hotspots and notebooks. Since then, Verizon has introduced 24 additional LTE-compatible devices, activating over 5.4 million of these in 2011.

While the US clearly leads the way in LTE adoption, growth is picking up elsewhere. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo gained 750,000 subscribers in Q4 2011 alone, as growing LTE availability and new flat-rate plans enticed 3G users to make the switch. ‘We project very rapid LTE adoption in Japan, with LTE subscribers topping 42 million by 2016,’ said TeleGeography analyst David Leach. ‘Nevertheless, Verizon’s enormous head start should allow them to remain the largest LTE operator in the world for some time.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database is the most comprehensive source of data for the wireless, broadband and fixed line markets, covering 173 countries and over 1,400 service providers.

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