The number of subscribers to the LTE communication standard is starting to outnumber those belonging to fellow 4G protocol WiMAX.
In South Korea, the United States, and Japan, the number of LTE subscribers surpassed that of WiMAX subscribers in 4Q11, 1Q12, and 2Q12, respectively, noted ABI Research in its report 4G Subscribers, Devices, and Networks.
"Japan, South Korea, and the United States used to have strong mobile WiMAX proponents, so while the momentum and future of WiMAX and LTE are clear, it is somewhat surprising to see how long the subscriber crossover has actually taken," says Phil Solis, research director, ABI Research.
LTE handsets are the primary LTE device for the foreseeable future capturing 77 percent of the LTE device market in 2011.
This percentage would dip in 2012 as LTE external modems and media tablets with embedded LTE modules pick up, but LTE handsets will surpass 80 percent of device shipments during 2016.
A few gating factors are holding back a potential explosion of non-handset LTE devices, but these are starting to get resolved.
"The relatively new data share plans leave room for improvement and represent one diminishing factor holding back the wider LTE device market. Another is related to new and unique LTE chipset solutions coming to market over the next few years," said Solis. "However, one of the factors that will remain is the complexity and cost around mobile technology royalties and litigation."
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