A new analysis of public safety-specific LTE infrastructure from SNS Research indicates that there is still plenty of room for growth in that market on the global scale. That shouldn't be too surprising since those kinds of networks are also being implemented in the U.S. thanks to a partnership between AT&T and FirstNet – which already has opt-in agreements with a substantial number states and territories. However, the U.S. is not the only country taking part in efforts to expand those types of dedicated networks. In fact, citywide networks have already been implemented in Spain, China, Pakistan, Laos, and Kenya. On the other hand, countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council region have already implemented nationwide systems. Beyond those dedicated LTE implementations, agencies in other countries are setting up network agreements through existing mobile carrier networks.
Meanwhile, the report from SNS Research suggests that by the end 2017 the amount spent yearly on those networks, on a global scale, will be above $800 million. In terms of both base stations and mobile core and transport network equipment, the report predicts that portion of the market will see a growth of around 45-percent over the next three years. Moreover, SNS Research expects that, by the year 2020, shipments of devices and technologies meant for use on those LTE networks will increase to around 3.8 million units. That growth, in the meantime, hinges on the further implementation of an increasing number of LTE networks around the world as agencies shift toward LTE from the more traditional radio communications systems. However, that doesn't appear to be a problem, with other countries such as South Korea also beginning to pilot similar efforts.
The purpose of the dedicated LTE networks is, more generally, intended as a way to improve the network capabilities of the emergency responders and other public safety offices operating on those networks. At the same time, the use of networks partitioned away from consumer networks should reduce congestion and keep things running smoothly overall. That's not to say that there hasn't been some controversy over the topic. Specifically, within the U.S., the issue primarily comes down the associated costs, and to fees expected to be paid by states or territories that opt-out of participating. Bearing that in mind, it makes sense that the creation and use of first-responder networks and the devices operating on those networks could see rapid growth over the next few years.