LTE 4G: Few Mobile Broadband Users Will Benefit Before 2015

LTE 4G mobile broadband access may be all the rage but good luck actually benefiting from it any time soon.

Thats the conclusion from Juniper Research. The firm on Tuesday said that a mere 1 in 20 subscribers worldwide will reap the rewards of wireless operators network investments by 2015.

However, that ratio should fall to 1 in 5 people in regions including North America, report author Howard Wilcox explained, as providers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility ramp up their 4G network investment. To be sure, Verizon is ahead of its rival: The company just wrapped field tests in Boston and Seattle and says it plans to roll out 4G in up to 30 markets by the end of this year. AT&T hasnt even started its technical trials and doesnt expect to do so until some time in 2011.

Nonetheless, the number of LTE subscribers around the world should exceed 300 million by 2015, Juniper found. Most of that growth will happen from 2012 on, in developed nations, Juniper said think North America, Western Europe, the Far East and China. Those countries will account for 90 percent of the LTE 4G market within five years, Juniper said.

So far, in the United States, Sprint Nextel Corp. remains the sole company offering 4G handsets and service. The catch is that Sprint uses the WiMAX standard, not LTE, through its partnership with Clearwire Corp. But, Clearwire is conducting LTE trials so it can decide whether and how to run LTE and WiMAX side by side. Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA, the nations fourth-largest mobile provider, is sticking to its 3G guns, for now.

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