wireless towerLTE subscriptions will rise from around 30 percent of total mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2017 to 50 percent come 2024. In addition, global subscriptions to the most advanced Gigabit LTE services will surge higher and reach nearly 2 million this year, according to the latest gigabit LTE forecast from ABI Research. That would amount to less than 5 percent of LTE Advanced Pro subscriptions, but will grow strongly moving forward.

Gigabit LTE-capable device numbers will be outnumber actual subscriptions though, ABI says. One of the main reasons is that only a few of wireless carriers’ cell sites will be capable of transporting gigabit communications this year, the market research provider highlights.

Gigabit LTE Forecast
Gigabit LTE is a keystone in the construction of advanced 4G wireless/mobile networks that carriers expect to see them through the next six to eight years and more, ABI points out. That’s significant in particular as carriers are turning to gigabit and super-fast wireless/mobile networking as a substitute for carrying out additional fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments.

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“Gigabit LTE is a specific configuration of the LTE Advanced Pro standard and is expected to account for 70% of LTE Advanced Pro subscriptions by 2026,” says Prayerna Raina, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “It is a critical network milestone for operators in an increasingly competitive environment in the evolution to 5G. It is essential for operators to support the ever-rising bandwidth needs of consumers, while also upgrading the network to support 5G networks in future.”

Sprint launched Gigabit LTE service for mobile devices in New Orleans in March, researchers note. ABI expects all key wireless/mobile network operators to follow suit sometime this year.

“Today, operators globally are in various stages of upgrading their LTE networks,” Raina continued. “Over the next four to six years, we expect mobile networks to evolve considerably with the proliferation of LTE Advanced, LTE Advanced Pro, and Gigabit LTE on one hand and the launch of 5G on the other hand.

“The vendor ecosystem is essential to this network evolution with device availability being critical for the service launch. It is, therefore, imperative for vendors to align their competitive strategies with the operators’ network transition timeline as well as alliances in the ecosystem.”

Providing customers with gigabit access is now a primary goal for AT&T, and they see multiple technology paths to achieve it, management highlighted recently.

“We need to evolve our entire network to a gigabit,” said AT&T Group President and Chief Strategy Officer John Donovan this week.

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