The United States leads the world in the number of LTE subscribers, but in terms of LTE penetration the United States is in fourth place behind South Korea, Japan and Australia. A global LTE heat map (below) produced by Juniper Networks shows that in South Korea almost two thirds of the population has access to LTE, versus roughly a fifth of the population in Japan, Australia and the United States.
More than half the world still has 2G service, or no service at all. Outside of North America, Europe, India and China, most 3G and LTE nodes are concentrated in coastal areas.
High speed connectivity is often much less expensive for consumers outside North America. Steve Shaw, director of mobile solutions marketing at Juniper, discussed bandwidth pricing with RCR; his comments are below the heat map.
Juniper’s Steve Shaw points out that connecting subscribers to mobile broadband is more profitable for U.S. operators than for their cohorts in other parts of the world.
“Today a gigabit of traffic on Verizon’s network is something on the order of $7.00, $7.50 a gig, in some markets it’s as low as $1.00 or less, and so in those particular cases just pricing based on bandwidth isn’t enough,” said Shaw.
“In some of the markets in Asia we’ve actually seen applications based pricing — the basic data plan and for a couple of bucks extra I get unlimited access to Facebook or to other social networking or to email service … It just comes down to the power of some of the deep packet inspection engines that are out there and their capability for actually digging in and trying to find the more valuable bits that are traveling through the network and helping operators find a way to monetize that.”
Shaw said one recent survey found that LTE subscribers use 146% more data than 3G subscribers. This is motivating operators to invest in their networks. Carriers in some parts of the world are going straight to fiber for new builds, and many U.S. operators are upgrading. “You can imagine bringing on hundreds of thousands of new subscribers, each using significantly more bandwidth than they were using before, those pipes need to get bigger and bigger, so rolling out fiber in the access network and actually stringing fiber directly to the cell site has become quite common for operators making this transition to LTE.”
Watch the full RCR Wireless interview with Steve Shaw.
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