The US leads the world in 4G LTE adoption

The US leads the world in 4G LTE adoption
The United States has grown to become the world leader in 4G LTE adoption after carriers like Verizon and MetroPCS launched their LTE networks, but AT&T and Sprint are also pouring massive investments in the high-speed wireless technology.

But it's the current big three US carriers operating an LTE network – Verizon, MetroPCS and AT&T - that account for 47% of all global LTE connections in 2011. The underlying estimate is that 7 million people are subscribed to those carriers' 4G offerings, nearly a half of the world's 14.9 million LTE subscribers.

Even though there are only 3 US carriers, they fare much better than the rest of the world's 26 mobile providers that together have a share of 53%.

The States are also in the lead when it comes to LTE device sales racking up 5.4 million units, or 71% of all sales of devices supporting the technology.

To put thing in perspective, Pyramid analyst Emily Smith compares LTE adoption at Verizon and Japan's NTT DoCoMo which also launched its network in December 2010. The difference in population coverage is stunning – Verizon is projected to have 60% of Americans covered by the end of the year, while DoCoMo aims at a mere 20% by March 2012.

And just how stunning a development this is given that a couple of years ago the States were ridiculed for the extensive use of CDMA technology. 

source: Pyramid Research via BGR



1. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

Well it's cause Verizon is first and foremost in LTE integration. Verizon always goes hard on their network, and has a ton of spectrum to play with and a ton of revenue. Verizon+Nexus Prime=Win

8. cellgeek82

Posts: 518; Member since: Dec 20, 2009

And people complain about their prices and the way they run business. The haters need to realize that companies like Apple and Verizon for example have greatly succeeded because they do what they do. Verizon makes their network and customer satisfaction a #1 priority. Can't help it that they make money doing that. And since they make money they can continue to build up and improve their network. Verizon's network = win!

13. biggles

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 15, 2009

Yeah, don't compare Apple and Verizon. Apple likes to ride the trailing edge of hardware technology unless they can offer a differentiator while Verizon is a leader. Otherwise, you're spot on.

2. ngo2dd

Posts: 896; Member since: Jul 08, 2011

Japan is still using WiiMax. And they are having WiiMax 2 coming out which can reach speed of 330 Mbs. So that is why lte has a lower market share of lte

14. biggles

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 15, 2009

WiMax is not suitable for a country the size of the US. Japan can pull it off because they're the size of California with large population centers. There's a reason Sprint is converting to LTE.

3. bluechrism

Posts: 99; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

"And just how stunning a development this is given that a couple of years ago the States were ridiculed for the extensive use of CDMA technology. " Despite the LTE expansion on verizon, they prabably still are and should be ridiculed for CDMA. It's one of the major reasons for the ridiculously complex US mobile system with 4 networks who all have to have their exclusives, where no device is really compatible across networks, and where customers get to pay high costs on long contracts. LTE will be good and the sooner the carriers are all using LTE for both voice and data and can drop the CDMA side the better, though, I'm sure they will make sure the frequencies are all differnt and devices remain incompatible. Ultimately, part of the delay around the world is because government regulators (FCC equivilents) are figuring out how to make the right frequencies available to ensure standardization across networks and even between countries. The US may be first to get high LTE adoption rates, which is great, but i am still worried that 3 years from now when this is what we will still see: - Europe: a single eurpoean Samsung Galaxy S 6 device with a few LTE radios, many networks offering it and competing on price as a customer can switch to any network they please to get it, and if you switch network you can take the device with you if it's unlocked. - US: 3 or 4 US versions, of which none work on any other, and will all be just a bit different from eachother and have different names. No cheaper plans for unlocked phones (because no ability to take any one device and use it on another network ), no ability for foreign travelers to use US networks when they visit (of if they can, be limited to whichever network in the US happens to use an LTE frequncy that also happens to be used in other countries), and equally, no ability for travelers from the US to use a foreign network when they travel (if they hapen to be on a network which has the same frequencies as networks in the countries they travel to, and have an unlocked phone).

5. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

You make a decent point, however, phones on American networks never use just one frequency. They use several, partly so they won't have trouble when going over seas. Also so they can switch frequencies for better service. The biggest thing to counter your point however is that this is a capitalist system, and this is competition jack. We don't cater to all for the survival of the market we run by a modified survival of the fittest. But instead of letting the unfit die we let them relish the last place spot. Competition may mean exclusives and yes companies will keep phones locked during contract but that's how u make money and the thing Americans are best at is making money.

6. bluechrism

Posts: 99; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

First point is true for AT&T and T-Mobile, though not really for the CDMA carriers. However, if voice and data LTE, then yes, it's likely to be a few frequencies for each carrier and this increases the chances of compatibility with other networks around the world. As for your second, it's true, although the foreign networks are also in capitalist systems - it's just that radio frequency regulation is handled differently. The US networks are also in a capitalist system, and the exclusive holdings of frequencies and network incompatibilities are a part of the way it works here and helps the businesses make money. But as a mobile customer, i know where i'd rather be.

7. clevername

Posts: 1436; Member since: Jul 11, 2008

As a mobile customer I'd rather be where u are as well. Lol. Less congestion on European networks and best of all, a while lot cheaper. Then again there are the gas

15. biggles

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 15, 2009

Drop the negative CDMA connotations because it's a better network technology for a country the size of the US. The problem here in the states is how our government has allowed the carriers to dictate terms over the last decade. Even a GSM carrier like AT&T practices SIM locking which really renders the concept (portable account independent of device) useless. You can criticize this country for how it's mobile infractructure is managed, and that has not changed going from 3G to 4G. We're already seeing that LTE frequency adoption is fragmented, and unfortunately long standing frequency assignments will make one/two-frequency world compatibility forever a pipe dream. If we can at least get on the same standard worldwide (LTE), at least we can stop worrying about the multi-standard + multi-frequency support and just concentrate on the latter, somewhat simplifying device designs.

4. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

Funny part is its all thanks to Verizon. Haha just wait until Sprint and at&t start rolling out LTE.

9. @bankrobber unregistered

The best part is.... The frequency Verizon chose is the 700Mhz spectrum... not 800 or higher. The lower the frequency the better... You get much longer range and better building penetration... Yes, Metro POS... and no that was not a typo is using 2.4Ghz. Try using that crap 4G in a well built building. Its going to be the same across all carriers as well. You may not notice much difference with slightly higher frequencies but there is a difference. Another advantage is that carriers are still having difficulty switching from tower to tower with 4G, It makes it even more difficult and less reliable when you use multiple frequencies. The technology is far from perfect but it's on its way. While Verizon has launched over 150 markets and will soon be at 175 by the end of this year. AT&T has........ Chicago? Whos next.... Sprint? Good luck surviving, with all the subsidies you have to make up on the new iPhone 4s over the next 18 months. Where are you going to get the money to pay for and expand and maintain this so called LTE network you're building. This is survival of the fittest...

17. carla23 unregistered

Well have u forgotten att also chose the lower 700 mhz band for 4g Lte? Yea att only has 5 *** markets up wit Lte but hey atleast it uses that same low 700 mhz band for building penetration as verizon.

10. austinmt

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 15, 2011

When they do get it done in two years!

11. tampacitizen unregistered

Verizon may be the biggest LTE network but, they are a fractured company ran by a few greedy executives who lack any vision of the future. Had the wireless side not partnered with Voda phone they would have been out of business years ago. I work at the c-executive level and have witnessed first hand their terrible customer service, shoddy financial reports, massive failures (i.e. FiOS) and continual labor problems at both the associate and management level. Their eventual goal is to get the FCC completely in their pocket and become the monopoly they once were and charge consumers whatever they want. To compare this company to Apple, Google, Fedex, or any other true titan of industry is a crime. If anything they are more akin to Exxon and the rest of the oil conglomerate

16. biggles

Posts: 269; Member since: Oct 15, 2009

What say you about AT&T that has sat on their profits quarter-in and quarter-out while the network quality has stagnated? I think Verizon has been smart about reinvesting heavily into 4G and it's showing. It's a much better experience than CDMA 3G, and they're not resting on their laurels. So what's the problem with FIOS? Again, as a subscriber, the service is amazing and blows cable out of the water. Speaking of resting on their laurels and providing little to the consumer, what say you of Comcast, Cox, TW, and others? Cable has been riddled with "sit still and rake in the cash" types for years. Customer service from Verizon has been shaky at best, but there's no doubt in my mind that they've taken advantage of a rather lax approach to innovation by other big companies, and have capitalized on it by moving to the forefront.

18. gaby1451

Posts: 120; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Ha, in your face Japan!

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.