Global 4G/LTE subscribership is expected to skyrocket from 9 million last year to more than 560 million in 2016, according to a new report from Parks Associates.
Still, the technology research firm estimates that in 2016, just 8.8 per cent of worldwide mobile subscriptions will be for 4G/LTE services. As of last month, a total of 83 carriers had launched LTE networks in 43 countries. An additional 40 carriers are expected to deploy LTE by the end of the year.
Also, the Asia-Pacific region is positioned to overtake North America this year in the number of 4G/LTE subscribers, according to the report. The company estimates that the Asia-Pacific region will claim more than 53 per cent of all 4G LTE subscribers by the end of the year.
Right now, 15 carriers in the Asia-Pacific region offer LTE services, Harry Wang, director of digital health and mobile product research at Parks Associates, said in a statement. Affordable LTE pricing has lead to "robust subscriber growth" in the region, namely in South Korea and Japan.
"Mobile operators worldwide have committed to 4G/LTE as the network technology of the future, but financial conditions, handset costs, and spectrum license availability will all influence the pace and scope of regional deployments," he added.
Telecom regulator Ofcom this week revealed plans to begin auctioning off spectrum to telecom companies by the end of 2012 to lay the groundwork for 4G networks to be rolled out next year. If all goes according to plan, 4G mobile broadband will eventually reach 98 per cent of people across the UK, Ofcom said.