The number of LTE-Advanced Pro subscribers is set to soar to over 641 million by 2021, forecasts say, up from 16.5 million at the end of 2016.
ABI Research said growth would be driven by demand in Asia Pacific, North America and Western Europe, where 87 percent of subscribers will be.
“LTE-Advanced Pro continues to bring substantial enhancements to the wireless network,” said Lian Jye Su, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Gigabit Class LTE, one of the high-speed downlink throughputs of LTE-Advanced Pro, changes the way mobile users interact with their devices.
“End users can now access cloud-based applications and stream 2K and 4K videos on the go. And operators can also benefit through better network utilization.”
Jake Saunders, Vice President at ABI Research, said that the technology gives mobile operators a “capex friendly” option for network upgrades.
“5G may be still out of the reach for many operators, but through incremental investment, LTE-Advanced Pro guarantees features that will generate new business cases for operators and better user experience for end users, all while preparing operators for 5G deployment down the road,” Saunders said.
ABI Research says that there were around 120 LTE-Advanced Pro trials or commercial deployments active worldwide, including in Australia, the US, Japan and South Korea.
The technology, which provides downlink speeds of between 450MBps and 1.2GBps, uses 3-component-carrier aggregation and above, 4x4 MIMO antenna, and 256 QAM and 16 QAM in downlink and uplink. It is one of several upgrades to LTE that is bridging the gap between LTE and 5G.
At the end of 2016 Russia’s MTS announced it would launch LTE-Advanced Pro on its commercial network.