4G LTEWith wireless network operator deployments accelerating, 4G-LTE networks will cover over one-third of the world population by the end of the year, according to new market data from GSMA Intelligence.

Thirty-five percent of people worldwide will be covered by 4G networks by year-end 2015. That’s up from 27 percent a year ago.

LTE Subscriber Growth
With the first commercial deployments carried out in 2009, the number of live 4G network operators worldwide totaled 352 as of end-January, according to GSMA Intelligence. Connections have grown rapidly, more than doubling from 200 million as of year-end 2013 to 490 million as of year-end 2014.

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4G-LTE networks represented three percent of worldwide mobile connections as of year-end 2013. That rose to seven percent by the end of 2014.

“The rapid growth in 4G network deployments and connections, alongside expanding coverage reach, has made the move to 4G one of the fastest network technology migrations ever seen. GSMA Intelligence forecasts that global 4G connections will grow at more than 30 per cent a year (CAGR) from 2014 to 2020,” GSMA Chief Strategy Officer Hyunmi Yang was quoted in a news release.

“There is a tipping point we typically see when 4G grows to account for more than 20 per cent of a market that drives adoption of new services. This 20 per cent threshold has already been reached in some markets, and is forecast to happen by 2017-18 on a global basis, which will have a huge transformational impact.”

GSMA forecasts global 4G-LTE connections will grow to reach 875 million by the end of 2015, making up 12 percent of the worldwide total. Coverage will expand to be available to 63 percent of the global population.

At 44 percent, the proportion of total mobile connections that are 4G-LTE is highest in North America.

GSMA expects the number of 4G-LTE connections in China to skyrocket in 2015, with China overtaking the U.S. as the world’s largest 4G market.

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