Global mobile subscriptions reached 7.343 billion by the end of 2015 according to GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association. It said that this is now equivalent to 100% penetration of the global population.
Analysing mobile subscriptions data provided to GSA by Ovum Ltd for Q4 2015, GSA noted that the number of LTE and LTE-Advanced subscriptions reached 1.068 billion worldwide by 31 December 2015. A total of 552.2 million LTE subscriptions worldwide were gained during the past year, representing 107% annual growth.
GSA said LTE continues to grow faster than any other mobile communications system technology and is now responsible for 1 in 7 mobile connections worldwide.
LTE gained almost 156 million connections in Q4 2015, with an average of almost 1.7 million LTE subscriptions were being signed up. The number of LTE and LTE-Advanced subscriptions is expected to pass the 3G/WCDMA-HSPA global total in 2020. GSM subscriptions fell by 141 million in the quarter.
APAC, with over 580 million LTE subscriptions, further grew its share of global LTE subscriptions to 54.3%. By December 2015, China had passed 386 million LTE subscriptions, adding almost 84 million in Q4 alone. North America remains the second largest LTE market with almost 237 million, though its share of the world market further declined to 22.2% of the global total. European share remained in the mid-teens (14.8%).
GSA revealed that strong growth was recorded again in the Latin America and Caribbean region having more than quadrupled its number of 4G/LTE subscriptions to over 54 million. More than 1 million LTE subscriptions were added during each month in the Middle East and the region now has 32.5 million LTE subscriptions, having achieved an annual growth of around 110%. Russia has over 11.7 million LTE subscriptions.
480 operators have commercially launched LTE systems in 157 countries, based on the latest data. GSA forecasts there will be 550 commercially launched LTE networks by end 2016 and 3.8 billion LTE subscription by 2020.
More than 1 in 3 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced system deployments. 116 operators, i.e. over 24% of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service in 57 countries.