Analysts: Pricing and profit models still not clear for LTE and TD-LTE coming fast

LTE will generate over US$1.7 bn for vendors in 2012 and 10 times more by 2017, according to the latest research 4GCounts report by Maravedis-Rethink.

Despite a 61% increase in subscribers between the first and second quarters of 2012, LTE will account for less than 5% of global wireless capex this year, and mass LTE deployments are highly concentrated within a few carriers and geographies. Maravedis-Rethink found that 4G service pricing strategies worldwide are in chaos, with major implications for margins and data roaming.

"Maravedis-Rethink anticipates that 560 million LTE subscribers will be active by 2017, of which 25% or 117 million will be TD-LTE users," said Cintia Garza, 4GCounts team leader. Multi-mode devices will be essential to TD-LTE uptake, and the study forecasts that by 2017, 83% of devices will be capable of supporting both TDD and FDD modes.

Other key findings:

* The Top 50 LTE operators profiled in 4GCounts reached a total LTE subscriber base of 17.6 million at the end of Q1 2012, in a global total of 20 million.
* In Q1 2012, NSN and Huawei enjoyed the lion's share of awarded LTE contracts, with 28% and 24% respectively.
* The WiMAX subscriber base will decline from 25 million in 2012 to 11 million by 2017.


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