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87 million 4G devices to be sold during 2012, 300% increase over 2011

April 23, 2012

According to a recent report from ABI Research, an estimated 87 million 4G-enabled devices will be sold during 2012, marking a whopping 297% increase year over year. As the WiMax standard was abandoned by operators worldwide, 2012 is shaping up to be the year of LTE-enabled devices, ranging from USB dongles to smartphones, tablets, and 4G portable hotspots.

The report estimates that out of the 87 million 4G devices estimated to be shipped by the end of the year, 70% will be handsets (meaning smartphones and tablets). According to Philip Solis, research director of mobile devices for ABI Research: “[…], in addition to 61 million 4G handsets being shipped in 2012, we estimate 26 million 4G non-handset products will be shipped. In the short-term, most of that will reflect customers purchasing USB dongles for legacy laptops and netbooks, followed by customer premise equipment, or home modem, purchases.”

In contrast, carriers in Western Europe claim that their customers are not exactly eager to jump on the 4G data bandwagon, although they are generally aware that LTE brings significantly improved download and upload speeds when compared to the 3G standard. The obvious reason for this reluctance is that current 3G customers feel like the upgrade in data speeds does not justify the major bump in tariffs.

Nevertheless, according to the report, this mentality will change in the future, as HD streaming becomes increasingly more appealing for smartphone and tablet users. Both the carrier-imposed LTE data tariffs, as well as the prices for 4G-enabled devices are expected to decrease by up to 20% over the next couple of years, due to the increasing market competition.

What are your opinions regarding LTE networks? Does the increase in data download/upload speed provided by LTE connectivity justify the bump in tariffs? Is the price/performance ratio of current 3G networks enough to satisfy your data thirst these days? Drop us a line in the comment section below!