The report, titled "LTE's Five-Year Global Forecast: Poised To Grow Faster Than 3G," said 4G networks that use Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology will have more than 100 million subscribers in four years. By comparison, it took about six years for 3G networks to hit that milestone.
Cost will be one of the major factors that will contribute to the rapid subscriber growth, the report said. While it will take billions to deploy the LTE networks, the IP architecture of the backbone should need fewer components, which equals lower overall costs. Additionally, the LTE networks have a theoretical limit of 100 Mbps, which could lead to a host of new services such as high-definition video streaming.
"Taken together, these factors will drive LTE to grow more rapidly than preceding mobile standards in terms of subscriptions," Pyramid research analyst Dan Locke said in a statement.
The majority of mobile operators around the world have adopted LTE technology for their 4G networks, and deployments are expected to begin in 2010 and 2011. Verizon Wireless is leading the charge and said it would launch an LTE network in two test markets in 2009, and then to 25 to 30 markets by the end of 2010. The carrier hopes to have a nationwide 4G network by 2015.
There's somewhat of a format battle going on with 4G networks, though, as Clearwire, Sprint, Google, Intel, and some cable companies are backing WiMax as the standard for the next generation of mobile broadband. WiMax has a lower theoretical downlink speed, but it's already deployed in a few U.S. cities, and Clearwire is hoping to cover more than 80 cities by the end of 2010.
LTE vs. WiMax won't be the typical winner-take-all showdown. Learn what each brings to the race (registration required).