4G Long Term Evolution, or LTE for short has seen some tremendous growth since it's introduction just three years ago. The extremely fast data communications technology is quickly becoming the standard here in the United States on both Verizon and AT&T, with Sprint and T-Mobile as well as some of the other smaller regional carriers racing to get into the game.
According to IHS iSuppli the number of worldwide LTE subscribers will hit 198.1 million by the end of 2013 with that number jumping to a cool billion by 2016. This is judging by steady growth seen from 612,000 in 2010, 13.2 million in 2011, and 92.3 million in 2012.
A statement by Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS, reads:
"With LTE emerging as a true global technology standard, its ecosystem now faces both challenges and opportunities. Rapid adoption will drive design innovations, particularly in smartphones, but issues like spectrum fragmentation will also remain an overhang for the LTE industry that requires attention. Overall, however, the LTE space will be less worried about rifts or divisions in technology, and more concerned with laying the foundation for sustained growth across the entire LTE landscape."
Of course when you see number predictions there are always another set from a different firm and the case of LTE adoption is no different. Back in November Yankee Group produced their own set of numbers which were a bit more conservative. In this instance Yankee Group says that by 2014 LTE adoption would be at 258 million users as opposed to the IHS number of 400 million for example.
Now just to hit on the negative a bit, IHS brings up the dreaded word "fragmentation". There are currently 40 different bands around the globe that are licensed to carry LTE services. That's kind of a big speed bump however something tells me that the carriers don't seem to mind it since they can lock you in on a network once you get a particular device.
We all know that LTE is the future. With more and more activations daily as well as a variety of devices from cameras to televisions looking to take advantage of speedy internet, who knows, maybe that billion number is a bit too conservative.