Many of the world’s markets have yet to settle the rights to 3G spectrum, which makes the jump to 4G LTE any time soon problematical at best. On a global basis, that’s going to dampen LTE growth for some time to come, according to ABI Research.
“By the end of 2010, 20 LTE networks are expected to have flicked the ‘on’ switch, but it may surprise many that LTE will only make up 11 percent of installed base stations by the end of 2015,” says Jake Saunders, vice president for forecasting at ABI Research.
“LTE population coverage will have crept up to 600 million by Q4 2012, but 4G marketing hype will precede 4G reality for several years to come,” he added.
4G spectrum awards will occur in a fragmented manner and will need to pass legislative and legal challenges in many markets. Some markets in South America and Africa have yet to consolidate their 3G spectrum awards, ABI reports.
Vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei can still get mileage out of selling 3G and 3.5G equipment in those markets, however. While the proportion of greenfield base stations has dropped, there is still a need to upgrade existing sites.