WiMAX isn't exactly a fading technology, but LTE is more and more the name of the mobile connectivity game -- at least in Japan, South Korea and the US. That's what ABI Research gleaned from its "4G Subscribers, Devices and Networks" market data: according to the study the number of LTE subscribers in Japan, South Korea and the US shot past that of WiMAX users in the last quarter of 2011 through to quarter two of 2012. The firm says 77 percent of LTE devices were smartphones in 2011, and it projects that LTE handsets will make up more than 80 percent of device shipments in 2016. ABI says LTE's advantage will grow in the next few years, as more mobile operators roll out TD-LTE networks, and as we begin to see more LTE chipsets hit the market. Head past the break for the press release.

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LTE Subscriber Totals Have Surpassed WiMAX in 2Q12, Finds ABI Research

OYSTER BAY, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In monitoring the early progress of LTE, many industry insiders closely watch countries where mobile operators are aggressively deploying new networks, and offering commercial LTE devices and services. In South Korea, the United States, and Japan, the number of LTE subscribers surpassed that of WiMAX subscribers in 4Q11, 1Q12, and 2Q12, respectively. The findings are part of new market data from market intelligence firm ABI Research detailing the mobile broadband transition.

"Japan, South Korea, and the United States used to have strong mobile WiMAX proponents, so while the momentum and future of WiMAX and LTE are clear, it is somewhat surprising to see how long the subscriber crossover has actually taken"
"Japan, South Korea, and the United States used to have strong mobile WiMAX proponents, so while the momentum and future of WiMAX and LTE are clear, it is somewhat surprising to see how long the subscriber crossover has actually taken," says research director Phil Solis. "In mid-2014, even subscribers to LTE in TDD mode will have surpassed WiMAX subscribers at which point WiMAX subscribers will begin their permanent, slow decline."

TD-LTE subscriber growth is slow with only a handful of smaller mobile operators currently servicing active subscribers. This will greatly accelerate towards the end of 2013 and into 2014 when larger mobile operators with TDD spectrum start adding LTE subscribers – especially China Mobile.

LTE handsets are the primary LTE device for the foreseeable future capturing 77-percent of the LTE device market in 2011. This percentage is dipping a bit in 2012 as LTE external modems and media tablets with embedded LTE modules pick up, but LTE handsets will surpass 80-percent of device shipments during 2016. A few gating factors are holding back a potential explosion of non-handset LTE devices, but these are starting to get resolved and most of these factors will deteriorate over the next few years.

"The relatively new data share plans leave room for improvement and represent one diminishing factor holding back the wider LTE device market. Another is related to new and unique LTE chipset solutions coming to market over the next few years," stresses Solis. "However, one of the factors that will remain is the complexity and cost around mobile technology royalties and litigation."

These findings are from ABI Research's "4G Subscribers, Devices, and Networks" market data – a component of the firm's 4G (http://www.abiresearch.com/research/service/4g/) Database Service, which includes Market Data and Insights. The service is part of ABI Research's Mobile Devices, Content, and Applications research practice.

ABI Research provides in-depth analysis and quantitative forecasting of trends in global connectivity and other emerging technologies. From offices in North America, Europe and Asia, ABI Research's worldwide team of experts advises thousands of decision makers through 70+ research and advisory services. Est. 1990. For more information visit www.abiresearch.com, or call +1.516.624.2500.

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ABI Research: LTE subscriptions surpassed WiMAX usage in Q2 2012