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LTE crosses one billion subscriber mark, accounts for one in seven connections

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LTE subscriptions passed the one billion mark in 2015, after more than doubling during the past 12 months, new figures from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) have revealed.

Europe's share of the LTE market remains flat at 14.8 percent, lagging behind APAC at 54.3 percent. China alone had signed up almost 84 million LTE subscribers in the fourth quarter of last year.

North America is the second biggest market with almost 237 million subscribers, although its share of the LTE market declined to 22.2 percent.

Latin America and the Caribbean saw its share more than quadruple to over 54 million. The Middle East has more than 32.5 million subscribers, after adding more than one million new subscribers per month.

LTE had almost 156 million new subscriptions in the fourth quarter of last year, 75 percent more than 3G/HSPA technology. The GSA expects LTE subscriptions to overtake 3G/HSPA by 2020.

The GSA said LTE now accounts for one in seven mobile connections worldwide, after 552.2 million 4G subscriptions were added during the past year.

There are now 480 4G networks launched across 157 countries. By the end of this year, the GSA predicts there will be 550 commercial networks.

Almost a quarter of all LTE operators have launched LTE-Advanced networks across 57 countries. More than one in three operators are currently investing in the technology.

Alan Hadden, Vice President of Research, GSA said: “A daily average of almost 1.7 million LTE subscriptions were being signed up during Q4 2015 and the rate of LTE subscriptions growth is accelerating. LTE technology is now being used by 1 in 7 mobile subscriptions worldwide.”

Last week, the GSA formed a new spectrum group to lobby for a greater supply of bandwidth to telcos.