Wednesday, March 15, 2017

ABI reports 2bn LTE Subscribers Accounting for 67% of mobile traffic

According to the latest Mobile Networks Biannual Update report from ABI Research, the mobile telecoms landscape is evolving rapidly, with national 4G deployments nearing completion in most markets worldwide and estimating that the 2 billion global 4G (LTE) subscribers as of early 2017 will increase to more than 4 billion in 2022, meaning that globally over 50% of people will be using an LTE network by that time.

However, ABI notes that the 4G market is continuing to develop, with the first gigabit-capable LTE networks beginning to arrive, offering mobile connectivity at speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s for end users.

Meanwhile, although 5G discussions and early developments are progressing ABI believes that LTE networks will continue as the backbone of broadband connectivity for many years yet as networks are upgraded to enable gigabit speeds and provide the foundation for 5G.

Further highlights of the ABI study include:

1. Mobile traffic totaled an estimated 109 Exabytes during 2016 and will reach 522 Exabytes in 2022, representing an average user consumption of 1.2 Gbytes per month currently, rising to over 5.7 Gbytes per month by 2022.

2. Over the period to 2022, LTE is expected to continue to be the dominant technology; at present LTE carries around 67% of total mobile traffic, and this is predicted to increase to 82% in 2022, while by that time 5G will account for only 13% of overall mobile data traffic.

3. Operator profitability is under pressure, with ARPU in the U.S., the most lucrative market, at around $43 currently, but expected to decline to less than $35 in 2022.

4. Network operator capex is also under pressure and looks set to continue to decrease until 2019, after which time it will rise as 5G deployments will ramp up.

5. 2G and 3G networks are expected to experience a double-digit subscriber decline for the second consecutive year; ABI notes that of the operators it tracks, 60 are twilighting 2G and 38 sunsetting 3G networks, meaning no more investments in upgrades, although consolidation of infrastructure and 2G/3G combinations with 4G continue.

Commenting on the report, Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research, said, "Gigabit LTE appeared this month in Telstra’s network, and ABI expects more than 15 mobile operators to be offering gigabit speed services to subscribers by the end of 2017… this is a significant development, and one that will lead to new use cases from the increase in data speed available to end users".

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