LTE to hit 50% of mobile subscriptions by 2024 as networks go Gigabit

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LTE will increase from 30 percent of mobile subscriptions globally today to 50 percent by 2024 as advanced versions of the technology take off, new projections suggest.

2017 will see Gigabit LTE grow to nearly two million subscriptions, according to the figures from ABI Research. This will account for five percent of LTE Advanced Pro subscriptions this year.

The figure is expected to increase to 70 percent of the technology's subscriptions by 2026.

However, the number of Gigabit LTE compatible devices on the market will far exceed subscribers to the technology, because of a lack of cell sites supporting it.

Operators were predicted to increasingly roll out the technology over the next 18 months.

Prayerna Raina, Senior Analyst at ABI Research, said: “[Gigabit LTE] is a critical network milestone for operators in an increasingly competitive environment in the evolution to 5G. It is essential for operators to support the ever-rising bandwidth needs of consumers, while also upgrading the network to support 5G networks in future.”

Raina said the firm expected mobile networks to evolve considerably over the next four to six years, adding that device availability would be “critical” to the service launch.

“It is, therefore, imperative for vendors to align their competitive strategies with the operators’ network transition timeline as well as alliances in the ecosystem.”

Monaco Telecom became the latest telco to roll out gigabit LTE in April, through tri-carrier aggregation, 256QAM and 4x4 MIMO, as well as a cloud RAN solution provided by Huawei.

In February, AT&T, Ericsson, Orange and Qualcomm carried out gigabit LTE tests using Licence Assisted Access (LAA) technology, where licensed and unlicensed spectrum is combined to maximise LTE speeds and capacity.

Vodafone Portugal, Ericsson and Qualcomm also achieved gigabit speeds over LTE in a recent trial.

Telstra in Australia and Sprint in the US claim to offer gigabit LTE.