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Shipments of 4G Smartphones Expected to Reach 245 Million in 2016

by Brandon Russell | October 10, 2011October 10, 2011 4:49 pm PDT

SmartphonesAs mobile device technology forges ahead, consumer demand for faster network speeds continues to rise. We have bigger screens, faster processors and larger digital ecosystems, so where are our faster speeds? Much of our lives revolve around being connected – just ask our own Emily Price – and what network we choose to read, analyze and digest data on-the-go makes an enormous difference. But 3G speeds are starting to become too slow for our instant-gratification driven culture. Is there not something better? Carriers certainly think so, and they’re slowly rolling it out right now. But there are some problems.

While 4G technologies are still in the beginning stages, ABI Research, an in-depth analysis firm of global connectivity technologies, expects the popularity of 4G LTE smartphones to increase from 4.6 million in 2010 to to 245 million in 2016. Suggesting such a sharp rise certainly sounds plausible once you consider the digital world we surround ourselves with, from movies to music to apps, the world of smartphones has become one of the industry’s biggest money makers in recent years, and carriers are hoping they can attract more customers by supporting LTE. If support for 4G LTE grows, the list of compatible devices does as well, ultimately affecting company design choices and technology paths heading into the future.

Nearly all of the world’s mobile operators, including the largest, are supporting LTE. It is an important driver for the LTE ecosystem that dwarfs any other drivers of 4G in general or of WiMAX and LTE, specifically.

However, unanswered questions remain. Despite growing consumer demand and a desire to implement the technology, a number of technological and business concerns loom for carriers. Networks looking to maximize coverage have yet to address spectrum allocation and alignment issues, along with higher costs compared to WiMAX technologies. Still, the support for LTE seems to make the most sense.

Mobile operators prefer to support LTE over WiMAX since it makes the most sense strategically to put their weight behind the technology that is best suited to maintaining the status quo among wireless network incumbents, says Kevin Burden, vice president and practice director, mobile networks.

ABI Research’s new report, 4G Smartphones, features a number of questions regarding the emerging technology, including key drivers and barriers by 4G (LTE & WiMAX) in the growing market.

Have 3G speeds become a problem for you? Are you looking forward to purchasing a 4G smartphone in the future?

[via ABI Research]


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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