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Ericsson eyes 50% LTE market share in Latin America

Ericsson is aiming to have more than 50% of the LTE market in Latin America by volume. The vendor recently won several contracts for new networks, and has signed LTE/EPC contracts with Claro, Oi, TIM and Telefónica’s Vivo in Brazil; UNE in Colombia; Telcel in Mexico; and AT&T and Open Mobile in Puerto Rico. Once the networks are deployed, Ericsson said it will achieve the goal to have more than 50% of the Latin American LTE market in terms of volume.

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Sergio Quiroga, head of the Latin American region at Ericsson, noted that the company’s LTE market share in the region will be substantially larger than its share of the regional 3G market. “For LTE, we want to keep the market share we already have,” Quiroga told RCR Wireless in a video interview. Quiroga also discussed what Latin America represents to Ericsson, carriers’ choice of LTE vendors, competition and the factors that are pushing mobile growth across the region.

During the recent Ericsson Business Innovation Forum in São Paulo, the company noted that there were 14 million new mobile subscriptions during the third quarter for a total of 676 million in Latin America, and it estimates the addition of another 230 million mobile subscriptions by 2018. However, few of the subscriptions are currently for LTE, although Ericsson predicted that this will change markedly by 2018, reaching 10% of the expected total of 900 million mobile subscriptions in Latin America.

Although it has been slow, LTE deployments in the region have begun to grow with some carrier deployments in countries such as Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Puerto Rico. The big push is expected to happen next year when carriers in Brazil will begin LTE services following the 2.5 GHz auction in June. In Mexico, Telcel and Movistar have already announced their LTE services.

In addition to consumer demand, factors such as economic and technological development — many driven by governments in the region — are contributing to the increase in mobile broadband subscriptions.

Brazil is expected to play a key role in the technological transformation of the region. Purchasing power has increased, and there are now more mobile phone subscriptions than people in the country. And with Brazil set to host the world’s two most watched sporting events with the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, there will be even more opportunities to boost national infrastructure.

In Latin America as a whole, Ericsson predicts that 3G technologies such as WCDMA/HSPA will largely replace 2G technologies such as GSM/EDGE by 2018. Whereas 3G technologies currently account for just 18% of all mobile subscriptions, they will account for 65% of subscriptions by 2018. The older 2G technologies will decline from 82% of all mobile subscriptions at present to 25% by 2018.

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