The United States will be the top Long Term Evolution market globally, as ranked by subscriptions, through 2015, when it will be overtaken by China, says Informa Telecoms & Media.

By 2016, there will be 100 million LTE subscribers in the United States and 613 million LTE subscribers worldwide. This accelerated growth has been driven, in part, by Verizon Wireless’ early commercial LTE launch in December 2010, which will have more than four million LTE subscribers at end-2011, representing 63 percent of total global LTE subscribers.

LTE has already changed competitive dynamics in the U.S. wireless market, Informa argues. Since launching LTE in December 2010 and the iPhone in February 2011, Verizon has gained market share on AT&T and most other U.S. operators apart from MetroPCS, which launched LTE in September 2010.

Verizon has increased its share of US mobile subscriptions from 31 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, when it launched LTE, to 33 percent in the second quarter of 2011,” says Mike Roberts, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

While the iPhone was the larger driver of Verizon’s share gains early in 2011, LTE is accelerating and will be the key driver from 2012 onwards. “Verizon has added around 2 to 2.3 million iPhone subscriptions every quarter in 2011, but new LTE subscriptions nearly tripled from 500,000 in the first quarter 2011 to 1.4 million in the third quarter of 2011,” Roberts says.

Also, LTE accounted for 53 percent of Verizon’s total postpaid net subscriber additions in the third quarter of 2011, up from 30 percent in the second quarter. AT&T launched LTE in September 2011. Sprint has also just announced plans to launch LTE in mid-2012, and to migrate its 4G WiMAX subscriptions to LTE.

Sprint has about eight million 4G WiMAX subscriptions in service. Leap Wireless is launching LTE in December 2011 and US Cellular plans to launch in March 2012. The U.S. market is the exception rather than the rule in the global LTE market. U.S. to lead LTE market

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