The direction of the mobile telecom industry is constantly transforming, with nationwide 4G deployments near completion in most markets. ABI Research predicts that the two billion global 4G (LTE) subscribers in early 2017 will rise to exceed four billion during 2022, meaning that more than one out of two people globally will be using an LTE network by 2022.
“Although most LTE markets are already saturated and most operators deployed adequate nationwide coverage, there is still room to grow,” says Nick Marshall, research director at ABI Research. “Gigabit LTE appeared this month in Telstra’s network, and we expect more than 15 mobile operators to be offering Gigabit speed services to their subscribers by the end of 2017. This is a significant development, and one that will lead to the birth of new use cases from the increase in data speed available to end users.”
LTE is and will remain dominant throughout the forecast period, according to ABI Research. It carries 67% of total mobile traffic today, increasing to 82% during 2022, while 5G will carry a mere 13% of total mobile data. At the same time, operator profitability is under pressure. The Average Revenue per User per month (ARPU) in the U.S. — the most lucrative mobile market — is approximately $43 [in March 2017] and will decrease to less than $35 during 2022. Network operator CAPEX is also under pressure and will continue to decrease until 2019, after which 5G deployments will ramp up.
These findings are from ABI Research’s Mobile Networks Biannual Update report, which includes data from the company’s Mobile Traffic & Usage, Mobile Operator CAPEX, and Mobile Carrier Revenue and Profit forecasts.