The explosive sales of tablets -- particularly the iPad -- and smartphones are putting pressure on many of the world’s carrier networks. The result is that more robust LTE networks than anticipated will have to be deployed to meet the demand, according to reports issued Thursday by Infonetics Research. Based on surveys of service providers and manufacturers, the reports also found that "phone-based" smartphones aren't likely to make much of an impact for five years, with PC-based devices (laptops, netbooks, dongles, etc.) accounting for the lion's share of the LTE traffic.
"The current mobile broadband device and phones market is increasingly driven by embedded devices and smartphones, with injections of growth coming from new touch screen form factors, such as the tablet, notably the Apple iPad, and e-readers like the Amazon Kindle," said Richard Webb, directing analyst of the market research firm’s Mobile Devices practice. "As LTE rolls out, these trends will continue, with device competition intensifying around embedded devices and high-end smartphones."
With the pressure on networks growing, HSPA+ will continue as the bridge between CDMA and LTE, Infonetics said. "Current networks won’t disappear anytime soon, and early LTE networks will only carry data while voice services will fall back to good-old circuit switch networks before LTE deployments start to ramp up," said Stephane Teral, another Infonetics analyst. "We're still at a very early stage for LTE with HSPA/HSPA+ rollouts, which are poised to enjoy a long tail."
The market research firm expects a dozen LTE deployments to be under way this year (MetroPCS and Verizon Wireless are two LTE deployments currently being rolled out). Infonetics noted that it has been increasing its LTE subscriber predictions and projects 165 million LTE worldwide subscribers by 2014.