By Mae Kowalke, TCMnet Contributor
They like it, they really like it!
The story of 4G LTE is not just the massive infrastructure upgrade, it also is one of intense subscriber adoption as the increased data transfer capabilities of 4G LTE make themselves known.
The number of active LTE subscribers jumped an average of 20 percent per month in 2013, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent blog post by network intelligence general manager, Patrick Tan.
“This figure represents subscribers that actively use the LTE service, not merely the number of activations stated in financials reports,” he noted. “At this rate, an operator with 500,000 active LTE subscribers at the beginning of the year would have 1,615,000 LTE users at the end of that year (a little over 3 times the number of LTE subscribers in the span of 12 months).”
LTE data volumes also are growing at a rapid rate, according to network analytics from Alcatel-Lucent and its Wireless Network Guardian solution. LTE data volumes have been growing at an astounding 31 percent per month on average.
“This gain was consistent, independent of data plans offered, smartphones supported or even the level of smartphone penetration,” noted Tan. “This volume growth has positively impacted revenues for this group: mobile data revenues increased by an average of 12.3 percent year over year while mobile data ARPU increase by 14.4 percent for the same period.”
LTE is proving to be good for CAPEX, too.
The Wireless Network Guardian data shows that with the rise of LTE data use, there is a corresponding decrease in 3G use. The volume of 3G use, which requires much more of an operator’s allocated spectrum, is decreasing an average of 3.4 percent per month as LTE traffic scales up. This decreased use of 3G resources can then start to be reallocated to the more efficient LTE network.
“We know beyond a doubt that if you build LTE, subscribers will want to use it,” stated Tan in his blog post. “That is certainly true in the North American market where providers do not charge a premium for the higher speeds that LTE offers. The adoption rate and volume generated speaks to the demand for higher speed.”
The next step for operators is shifting to subscriber retention and increased ARPU from LTE. As subscribers realize the benefits of LTE, it is about converting existing 3G users to LTE in an attempt to keep them and capture more revenues from the continued increase in data usage experienced on LTE networks.