Asia/Pac Will Be LTE World Leader

The Asia/Pacific region will have the most LTE subscribers in the world by the end of 2014, according to a recent report from Pyramid Research .

The region has become a hotbed of LTE activity, driven by the swift rate of smartphone adoption, the surge in mobile data usage as well as the demand for bandwidth-hungry applications, according to the report, "Asia-Pacific to Be Global Leader in LTE by 2014."

By the end of 2016, Pyramid estimates that there will be 238.1 million LTE subscribers in the Asia/Pacific, which will account for 5.8 percent of the region's total mobile subscriptions.

The biggest LTE markets in the region will be Japan and China. And, by the end of 2014, China will overtake Japan as the country with the most LTE subscribers; two years later China will have nearly double the amount of subscribers in Japan, according to Pyramid.

In Japan, NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) launched its Xi branded LTE service in December 2010. At the end of June this year, Docomo reported that it had 121,000 Xi subscribers, which is up from 26,000 subscribers at the end of March 2011. (See NTT Docomo Launches LTE Service.)

South Korea, India and Indonesia will be the next-biggest LTE markets in the region after China and Japan. India, for example, will have 17.3 million LTE subscribers by the end of 2016. (See Report: 17 Million LTE Users in India by 2016.)

The South Korean market shows how rapid smartphone take-up and high mobile data usage have forced operators to change their LTE plans. The three mobile operators -- SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM), KT Corp. and LG Telecom -- had planned to launch LTE services in 2012 or 2013, notes Pyramid. But to feed the bandwidth appetites of their customers, they have all brought forward their launches. SK and LG launched LTE services in July 2011, while KT plans to start LTE services in November this year, according to the report. (See Korea's LTE Lift-Off and SK Telecom Spends Big on Mobile Broadband.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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