According to European thinktank IDATE, demand for LTE services will remain strong for years to come.
Out of 915 million subscribers in 2016, Asia-Pacific is expected to represent a sizeable 41.6 percent of the total, North America 21.6 percent, Africa/Middle East 7.5 percent, Eastern Europe 4.9 percent and Western Europe 15.8 percent.
IDATE found that LTE is now mainstream, with major deployments in every region. However, China has yet to decide on the future of TD-LTE and the first LTE Advanced networks should start appearing later this year.
IDATE also warned that increased mobile broadband traffic is putting more pressure on networks and driving demand for more spectrum in sub-1GHz bands for LTE and LTE Advanced networks. It believes 700MHz is the most promising option for a harmonized frequency band across all major regions.
Europe’s decision to auction off the 800MHz band without proper coordination is negatively affecting compatibility, IDATE found. However, harmonisation could prove tricky, as 700MHz LTE services are not expected to launch in Europe before 2020, although Germany and France are expected to organise auctions as soon as 2015.