South Korea is the global 4G champion, with adoption forecast to jump from 63 per cent of total mobile subscribers last year to 80-90 per cent in 2019, according to TeleGeography.
In Japan 4G had a 41 per cent market share in 2014, which is predicted to also hit 80-90 per cent in five years.
Just 8 per cent of China subscribers had 4G connections last year, but TeleGeography expects that to rise to 39 per cent in 2019 – accounting for nearly a third of global 4G connections.
The research firm forecasts that global 4G subscribers (see chart below, click to enlarge) will grow 35 per cent annually over the next five years, almost quadrupling from 516 million to 2.3 billion (ABI Research last week said it expects worldwide 4G subscribers to double to 1.37 billion by the end of the year.)
Despite the rapid uptake of 4G in many regions, 2G and 3G aren’t going away anytime soon, TeleGeography said. 2G remains the dominant mobile platform today, accounting for 61 per cent of global mobile subscribers.
One of several reasons for this is that 90 per cent of India’s 950 million subscribers are still on 2G networks.
Global 3G subscribers aren’t expected to surpass 2G subscribers until 2019. Although 4G is growing at a faster rate than 3G ever did, TeleGeography analyst Mark Gibson said 4G likely won’t surpass 3G on a global basis until early into the next decade.