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LTE Subscriptions Race Ahead of Expectations, Says ABI

In the first quarter of 2011, Verizon Wireless activated half a million LTE-enabled devices, while Japan’s NTT DoCoMo scored 25,000 LTE subscriptions, according to a new report from ABI Research. These are solid gains out for LTE, and point to strong demand for fast wireless data connections.

“We believe LTE adoption will take off more rapidly than expected, with more operators announcing network launches and existing players widening network coverage,” said ABI Research analyst Fei Feng Seet, in a statement. “And as mobile data speeds increase, the idea of replacing fixed lines with wireless connections becomes more popular among consumers.”

Overall, the wireless telecommunication industry continues its robust growth moving into the second half of 2011. The global mobile industry has now passed the 5.5 billion subscriptions milestone, according to the report. Even though some markets may have reached saturated penetration levels, new wireless technologies are expected to push subscriptions even higher.

According to ABI Research’s latest published figures, North America is forecast to reach 387 million mobile subscriptions by 2016, out of which close to 85 million are potentially LTE-enabled subscriptions.

In Asia, 3G networks are starting to gain momentum. With Indian spectrum auctions concluded last year, ABI Research puts the number of 3G subscribers in that country at more than 100 million, including both WCDMA and CDMA2000; while China’s overall 3G subscriptions approach 62 million.

However, many Asian operators are still working on expanding their 3G footprints, as consumers demand nationwide coverage. Total 3G subscriptions in Asia are set to cross 1.2 billion by 2016.

ABI Research’s “Global Mobile Subscriber Database” tracks key worldwide subscription trends by quarter, by operator for over 120 markets.

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