4G LTE, the high-speed wireless data connection available in some mobile devices via carrier networks, is set to expand its reach in the next several years, according to new data from research firm Juniper Research.
By 2017, there will be 1 billion active LTE, or long-term evolution, connections worldwide, Juniper reported on Wednesday. That figure will nearly double to 1.8 billion by 2019, representing 22 percent of global active connections that year, according to the research firm.
Juniper found that emerging markets around the world, including China and India, were central to the technology's growth. Just recently, China Mobile, China's largest carrier and the biggest carrier in the world with nearly 800 million customers, ramped up its LTE efforts and is expected to dramatically expand that in the coming years. In fact, by 2019, Juniper said the Far East and China will generate the majority of LTE service revenues.
In the US, carries have pushed hard to transition to newer 4G LTE mobile phone networks. Still, it's not nearly as ubiquitous as US carriers would like, with Korea leading the world with 62 percent penetration. At the end of last year, LTE penetration in the US was at 19 percent, according to Juniper. Data transfer speeds on LTE networks in the US have also dropped over the last year, according to data collected from subscribers. In February, the US ranked 15th out 16 countries for LTE download speeds as the average data rate dropped to 6.5Mbps, according to network monitoring app OpenSignal.
Looking ahead, Juniper sees the market changing quickly. The company reports that there are now 168 vendors offering 1,889 LTE-ready devices to consumers around the world. Over 300 commercial networks are capable of handling LTE data transmissions. Nearly a third of smartphones shipped in 2014 will come with LTE, and Juniper expects those numbers to grow in the coming years.