Telecom Regulators and Mobile Carriers Stepping Up Efforts to Repurpose 2G and 3G Spectrum for LTE

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Singapore - 02 Dec 2013

Spectrum repurposing is gaining momentum. The launch of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services by major carriers first in South Korea and soon in the United States is part of the effort to move voice calls from the circuit switched 2G and 3G networks to the packet switched LTE networks. To achieve this, operators have built extensive LTE networks, which also serve as a marketing tool to stay in competition.

"For CDMA operators such as Verizon, aggressive LTE deployment is necessary because a VoLTE call cannot fall back to the circuit switched domain," said Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research. "Even for WCDMA operators like AT&T, it makes sense to do likewise because LTE is much more spectral efficient than WCDMA." As such, by the end of next year, when VoLTE has gained more momentum, ABI Research expects more than 93% of the North American population to have access to LTE.

Underlying the adoption of LTE is the support from handset OEMs. "In 2014, LTE handset shipments in Asia-Pacific and North America—the two largest handset markets—will grow by 28% and 25% to reach 150 million and 81 million respectively," commented Jake Saunders, VP and practice director. "As China joins the VoLTE club next year, more handsets will support this service."

Other devices will increasingly have access to LTE networks as well. Tablets with LTE support will see global shipments jump by 67% in 2014. The growth of 72% is even higher for the United States, which may come as a surprise for this relatively mature market, as consumers take advantage of shared data plans which are gaining popularity.

These "4G Subscribers, Devices and Networks" Market Data findings are part of ABI Research's LTE Research Service. Segmentation includes subscribers, devices and base stations, plus regional and selected country-level segmentation for the 4G market, including mobile WiMAX and LTE.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research's worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.