After a Masters in Computer Science, I decided that I preferred writing about IT rather than programming. My 20-year writing career has taken me to Hong Kong and London where I've edited and written for IT, business and electronics publications. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Stewart Baines where I continue to write about a range of topics such as unified communications, cloud computing and enterprise applications.
Although we are still some way from its mainstream deployment, some analysts are already claiming that the uptake of the next generation of GSM mobile technology called Long Term Evolution (LTE) will grow faster than any other previous mobile technology. Pyramid Research, part of Light Reading, predicts that LTE subscriptions will grow at a whopping compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 404% from 2010 to 2014, making it a quicker success than any previous mobile standard including 3G.
"While it took nearly six years for UMTS/HSPA to reach 100 million subscriptions, Pyramid predicts that LTE will take just over four years to reach the same milestone," says Daniel Locke, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report LTE's Five-Year Global Forecast: Poised to Grow Faster than 3G. By the end of 2014, he expects worldwide LTE subscriptions to reach 136 million. The bulk of the first LTE subscriptions will come in the US and Japan, but emerging markets will account for 43% of all LTE subscriptions by 2014. This latter growth will be largely driven by China, which alone is expected to account for 36.1 million subscriptions in 2014.
Pyramid says that LTE will be successful because most of the major market players are behind the mobile standard. "By using LTE's more efficient and cost-effective flat IP architecture, mobile operators can transfer the savings to end users in the form of lower prices for access, faster data rates, and higher traffic allowances for a wider adoption of mobile data services," says Daniel Locke, analyst at Pyramid Research and author of the report. "To date, 27 mobile operators worldwide have publicly committed to deploying LTE, with 12 of them expected to roll out commercial services in 2010 and the remainder during 2011 and 2012."
But not everybody thinks that LTE will grow that quickly, and European operators in particular are much more reserved about their timetables. At the recent LTE World Summit, Unstrung reported that both Orange and T-Mobile said that technical issues needed to be resolved before LTE was a viable commercial proposition. The chief concerns of some operators included support for voice, impact on backhaul and the lack of spectrum. Even the optimists says that early LTE growth will be data-only, not least because the earliest LTE capable handsets are unlikely to appear until 2011.