4G: Taking Over the World

If Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC)'s predictions about the growth of global 4G are even close to accurate, then the latest generation of wireless is going to be one of the most transformative technologies that the world has even seen.

Consider the raw figures for a moment: Ericsson says that by 2017, half the world's population will have access to 4G networks. It believes that smartphone subscriptions will reach around 3 billion in five years' time.

The world's population currently stands at just over 7 billion people.

Of course, the world's population will be bigger by 2017 and many people are likely to own more than just one smartphone. Still, it is a remarkable prediction, suggesting that many people's first experience of the Internet, video, services like banking and key social interactions will happen through a small wireless computing device they carry with them.

We can already see this through the growth in popularity of mobile payments in Africa and India.

It also makes me think the world's operators and vendors will have no time to rest on their laurels. Many things will need to get cheaper and more streamlined, including:

  • Next-generation handsets
  • 4G data plans
  • Mobile backhaul, especially for small cells

Clearly, a $200-plus phone and an $80-a-month plan are just not an option for many in the U.S., let alone parts of the rest of world. So, if these predictions are to come to pass, a move to less expensive devices and plans has to be part of the equation.

Let's not even get into the vexed issue of spectrum availability this time around. It seems that no matter what happens, 4G will change the world, one way or another.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:31:01 PM
re: 4G: Taking Over the World

It's crazy to think that mobile phones are most peoples' only access to the Internet in emerging markets. That's also huge opportunity for mobile banking companies, since they don't have the traditonal bank structure in these markets either.

Arno_K 12/5/2012 | 5:29:47 PM
re: 4G: Taking Over the World

... are two rather completely different items. LTE is a premium service {if alone from device cost: big screen, high-processing power AP for all the graphics, lots of memory}

On the LTE service charges - they widely differ around the globe. It might suffice to compare Vodafone Germany LTE pricing with Verizon Wireless LTE pricing models in the US, as illustration ... different markets result in different competitive offers.

We have seen track-record of WCDMA/HSPA around the globe - and it's only natural that LTE as the next evolution is following this ... the first billion of people actually covered with LTE service in USA, Canada, Japan, S.Korea (nationwide today), Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia/New Zealand and much of Europe (Germany LTE coverage is about 40% of area today, and all major cities (100k+ inhabitants) will be covered by end-of-2012) - as well as many other metro destinations around the globe - will likely be achieved by end-of-2013.

Some predictions have said 1 billion LTE users by 2017 .... which would represent about one  in 3-4 people covered by the LTE service ... so a rather 'reasonable' consideration - more along the line ... Who of those people, who had a 3G-subscription in 2011 (about 1 billion people around the globe ...) will NOT have an LTE subscription by 2017 ? - answer: Hardly anyone ....

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