4G is going mass market, and it couldn’t be at a more opportune time, according to a new Yankee Group report, “4G creates opportunity for all ecosystem players.”

By timing, the research firm (we presume) doesn’t mean it’s opportune because we’re here at the Yankee Group’s 4G World conference. Rather, it’s good timing because to meet demands, operators are going to need 4G.

Between 2010 and 2015, the global installed base of smartphones will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent. The tablet market will move even faster, achieving a CAGR of 81 percent during the same period, the research firm says.

Of course, such growth in devices cannot be sustained without a significant upgrade in mobile network capacity. Yankee Group’s forecast data predicts the combined total of LTE and WiMAX mobile lines will reach 675 million by 2015, up from just 31 million at the end of 2011.

“Stunning mobile data growth driven by broad adoption of smartphones, tablets and USB modems is pushing today’s 3G networks into the performance red zone,” said Declan Lonergan, Yankee Group research vice president and co-author of the report. “The acceleration of 4G deployments is paramount to meeting consumers’ insatiable appetites for content and applications on the go.”

Other findings include:

·      Mobile video consumption is on the rise. More than 40 percent of smartphone owners in the U.S., U.K. and France are already watching video on their mobile devices at least once a week.

·      Mobile broadband is moving beyond luxury. More than 40 percent of Europeans now rank mobile Internet access in their top-three most important features when choosing a mobile handset.

·      Consumer awareness of 4G remains patchy. According to a Yankee Group survey, 44 percent of consumers have either never heard of 4G or don’t understand what it means.