LTE protocols being developed will pose complement existing public safety networks and that market alone will be worth $5 billion by 2020.
That’s according to ABI Research, which said that existing safety protocols like TETRA and P25 are well established because they are so stable.
But LTE vendors are working with both TETRA and P25 vendors to introduce LTE (4G) capabilities.
ABI said that since Release 10, 3GPP has included enhancements which improve the mission critical features of LTE.
LTE-Relay extends network coverage while LTE-Direct lets public safety devices create direct point-to-point communication without needing a base station.
Release 13 of 3GPP will standardise indoor positioning and push to talk capabilities.
A number of vendors is working together to show the advantages of a single unified broadband and narrowband system, with Motorola, Ericsson, Harris and Nokia working together.
ABI believes that the first markets to have a fully working public safety network will be the USA, the UK and South Korea.
A survey performed by IHS said that the world is slowly moving to true 4G, but the path of telecommunications is still far from smooth.
Stephane Teral, research director for mobile said “the 4G experience is still far from consistent and is falling short of expectations.
She said that the debate over 5G is being accompanied by “fanfare, hype and confusion, but little substance about what it is exactly and what it is not. For now the mindset is still locked into mobile broadband as we know it with LTE, so it’s good that the ITU has just stepped in to define 5G in its brand new IMT-2020”.
She said Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia are the top LTE (4G) equipment manufacturers. And commercial voice over LTE (VoLTE) will ramp in volume this year and next year.
And although vendors are talking about 4G network functions virtualisation migration, Teral said that won’t happen very fast because most LTE networks are new, and mobile operators simply aren’t ready to migrate.
The arrival of 4G/LTE is proving so popular that there’s a fortune to be made out of selling masts and antennae for the global infrastructure.
So much so, that market intelligence company ABI Research, forecasts that the global market for LTE capable antennae will be worth close to $4 billion this year.
ABI thinks that multi-band antennae are the hot potatoes in the LTE bortsch. “Lance Wilson, a research director there, said: “LTE does not have the formal spectrum standardisation of previous air interfaces such as 3G, so multi-band antennae that can operate over a number of different frequency slots offer a solution to the problem of rapidly growing LTE wireless data traffic.”
The cost of active antennae has caused it to have lack of appeal, but the entire supply chain for antennae is “unusual” because of multiple tiers and multiple players.
Wilson said that most vendors are small companies and there’s very likely to be consolidation in that sector.
He believes that LTE capable antennae are responsible for growth the market and that’s going to continue to happen at least for the next few years.
A report issued by the European Commission (EC) said that nearly eight out 10 households in the European Union had access to 4G LTE broadband at the end of last year.
The EC report said that next generation access (NGA) broadband was now available to 68.1 percent of EU homes, meaning that there were 15.5 million households using 30Mbps or greater broadband compared to last year.
Fixed broadband coverage was flat at 97 percent, indicating that member states are now focusing more on mobile tech and NGA.
And there is better news for people in the EU living in rural communities, with NGA coverage growing from 18.1 percent in 2013 to 25.1 percent last year.
The standout countries in Europe are Denmark, Netherlands and Sweden – they have 99 percent LTE coverage. The Czech Republic and Malta also saw considerable growth in 2014. Malta had no coverage in 2013 but 67 percent of people there have access to LTE now.
Fibre to the front door – which gives very fast broadband connections – was available in the European Union to 18.7 percent of households. Lithuania and Latvia are leading the rest of the states.
Adoption of 4G data services is eclipsing revenues from mobile voice revenues, which are in decline.
And it won’t be long before the difference between 4G and 3G widens to such an extent that by 2020 the newer standard dominates the market.
A report from ABI Research said that in 2020, 4G data traffic will hit 224.7 exabytes and represent 79 percent of total data consumption.
Realising the revenue opportunities for data, mobile operator are “sparing no effort” to cover customers to 4G networks, said Marina Lu, a research analyst at ABI.
She said they’re doing that by offering attractive tariff plans and quick update services.
“In addition, the richer content services including HD video, lossless music and high speed games are in great demand, boosting data service revenues,” she said.
Last year, China Mobile made the best gross profit, followed by Verizon and AT&T.
Lu said that in its first year of commercialisation of LTE/4G, China Mobile moved from being voice centric to being more data centric.
Verizon moved to plans which encouraged people to shift to data enabled services as part of their package.
Adoption of LTE 4G across the world grew threefold since 2013 to stand at 628 million.
But that’s putting pressure on so-called backhaul networks because of the proliferation of tablets, smartphones and bandwidth intensive applications.
The infrastructure is creaking at the seams, according to a report from ABI Research.
Jake Saunders, a VP at ABI said many countries are looking at allocating existing spectra to cope with mobile backhaul, as it’s called. Regulators are either consulting with telco operators to plan for the future.
Saunders said that microwave spectrum bands are the most widely usedd and will continue to be important, thinks ABI.
But spectrum bands in the sub 20GHz spectrum are beginning to show congestion, so operators are considering the V-band (60GHz) and the E-band (70/80GHz). A combination of fibre optic and MMW are likely to be half of total backhaul links by 2019.
Market intelligence company ABI Research said that mobile broadband and the high speed performance of LTE means the market for mobile network monitoring and optimisation will be worth over $40 billion over the next five years.
And it’s China that’s leading the rush – with widespread adoption of SSL encryption being a game changer.
Practice director Joe Hoffman believes that mobile optimisation will become more important than ever before.
“The advent of all IP services, including VoLTE, VoWi-Fi and LTE-U require close attention from the operator,” he said. “All leading network infrastructure vendors, including Ericsson, Nokia Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, offer their own or partnered solutions. Likewise, the independents, such as Citrix, ByteMobile and Openwave Mobility, provide differentiated, targeted and ready-to-use solutions for every mobile broadband operator.”
ABI believes that capacity improvement will be such that there will be virtually free network and spectrum gear.
There were over 100 million LTE subscriptions taken out in China last year with China Mobile taking a 90 percent market share.
And in 2015, ABI Research believes that China will overtake the USA to be the biggest 4G market in the world, with 500 million LTE subscriptions.
In the fourth quarter of last year, LTE subscriptions worldwide rose by 149.1 million – overtaking 3G subscriptions by 10.9 percent.
ABO expects subscriptions to grow at a CAGR of 21 percent between this year and 2020, reaching 3.5 billion.
Asia Pacific is the prime region for LTE subs, followed by North America and Western Europe.
By 2020, global 2G subscriptions will continue to decline and stand at 1.69 billion.
Consolidations in the Western European market meant there were some short term fluctuations to mobile subscriptions.
Although chip giant Intel has already taken a considerable beating because of its commitment to become a leading player in the mobile and tablet market, it seems that it doesn’t feel it’s spent quite enough yet.
According to Taiwanese wire Digitimes, Intel is going to create reference designs for the Android operating system in the second half of this year in a bid to help so-called “white box” manufacturers make and sell cheap tablets.
“White box” goods are unbranded products which distributors and others can then pick up and re-brand with their own je ne sais quois.
The Chinese white-box tablet market has, according to several market research companies, already taken a whack as demand falls because the replacement cycle for these devices isn’t on a very regular basis.
But Intel wants tablets to use its SoFIA processors and prices for 10 inch, 8 inch and seven inch LTE and 3G tablets at prices of around $130, $90, and $80.
It isn’t just Chinese manufacturers who will benefit from Intel’s largesse – the same report said that well known names including Foxconn, Compal, Pegatron, Wistron and Elitegroup will all give the Intel scheme a go.
Meanwhile, the research arm of Digitimes reported that there is such a huge stock of cheap notebooks in 2015 that manufacturers are complaining of the “worst ever” decline in shipments.
Acer will be launching a 4G handset in Taiwan in the next quarter, but it will not be touching Intel’s offerings with a ten-foot barge pole.
Instead Acer will be using chips from MediaTek and Qualcomm despite the fact that the hardware maker has been using Intel for its Liquid smartphones for emerging markets in Asia. This will be a blow for Intel. Taiwan is rolling out its LTE network and Acer would have helped it shift a fair number of chips.
Acer had not said why it has not chosen to further its partnership with the chip giant, while its rival Asus has chosen to launch its range of Intel-powered smartphones, the ZenFone series, in Asia.
It might have something to do with the fact that Intel’s Merrifield Atom chip will support LTE, but this is using a separate LTE radio instead of being integrated into a single package like Qualcomm’s offerings.
Intel has been slow at coming out with an integrated chip and this is not expected until the end of 2014. Word on the street is that Acer is still chums with Intel, it just not want to show up at a Taiwan market with phone which is heavier than the rest.
Intel is still playing catch up in the mobile market and last week’s quarterly results showed that it is paying the price. In the most recent quarter, Intel’s Mobile and Communications group lost a staggering $929 million and shipped only five million tablet units during the quarter. This is mostly being spent on R&D as a result of the company’s push into mobile. One of the reasons Intel lost money was because its 2G/3G modems saw a steep fall-off as shipments of LTE-enabled smartphones, powered by Qualcomm increased.
In other words, Intel’s lack of an LTE modem to pair with its applications processor solution during 2013 was disastrous and now even its best mates have to look elsewhere.