Half of Australians to go 4G by mid-2016: Telsyte

Rate of adoption depends on device availability and apps' data demands.

In four years, 4G LTE devices could make up nearly half of all mobile connections in Australia, according to Telsyte research released today.

Telsyte predicted 46 per cent of total mobile connections would be 4G by mid-2016 and some will use 4G mobile broadband as an alternative to fixed-line services.

“Our latest research indicates a combination of new handsets, strong carrier deployment of 4G services, and mobile broadband as an alternative to fixed-line services is resulting in faster than initially expected uptake of 4G services in Australia,” Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi said in a statement.

4G in Australia: The state of the nation

How quickly 4G is adopted will depend on the number and popularity of 4G devices, Telsyte said.

More than 20 LTE devices are expected by the end of this year, and Telsyte predicts more than 80 per cent of smartphones sold in 2016 will have 4G capability. 4G is available on several high-end smartphones including the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3, however Google surprised some when it did not include an LTE radio in its Nexus 4 smartphone.

Video and other data-intensive apps are also driving demand for faster mobile speeds, Telsyte said. More than 30 per cent of Australian smartphone users regularly use over-the-top voice or video call applications, said Telsyte analyst Alvin Lee.

“Some applications require a fast and stable data connection to provide users a more complete experience,” Lee said. “With typical LTE speeds of 40 Mbps a lot of opportunities will be created for data hungry applications like streaming media services, turn-by-turn navigation and video applications.”

LTE today mainly uses the 1800 MHz spectrum band, however Australian telcos are expected to roll out future 4G services on 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum in the upcoming Digital Dividend auction. Telstra and Optus, but possibly not Vodafone Hutchison Australia, are expected to bid in the auction.

The 700 MHz and 2.5 GHz bands “are supported across the globe in different countries, and are likely candidates to mitigate future LTE roaming challenges,” said Lee.

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