Mobile operators are set to bring in $1tn in revenues from 4G mobile services over the next five years.
The prediction was made in a report from Juniper Research, which claimed the figure would account for 17% of all mobile service revenues over the period, showing rapid growth in the adoption of the faster connectivity.
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However, the report also warned operators to embrace the trend towards offloading mobile data onto Wi-Fi networks, else risk missing out on extra revenues which could be taken by pure Wi-Fi providers.
“Along with the 4G network roll-out, the 4G/Wi-Fi combination will continue to provide a scalable and cost-effective solution,” said Juniper Research analyst and author of the report Nitin Bhas.
“It offers long-term benefits, with the present offload platforms supporting future network infrastructures, and is now a priority for many operators,” he added.
The 4G/Wi-Fi combination will continue to provide a scalable and cost-effective solution
Nitin Bhas, Juniper Research
Providers will also have to be careful with pricing, as going too high will put off prospective customers and slow down both adoption and the generation of revenue.
In the UK, the only operator to provide 4G services – EE – had to cut its initial tariffs by 14% just three months after launch, hinting that take-up of the services was far from booming. In its most recent results call, the operator revealed that just 318,000 customers had signed up for 4G services in the five months since it went live, 1,600 of which were medium or large enterprises.
Currently, 4G speeds give customers an average download of between 8Mbps and 12Mbps. However, EE plans to double these figures for a minimum of 10 cities by the end of June and roll out the faster times to the rest of its network by the end of 2014.
Its rival operators in the UK – Vodafone, O2 and Three – are all expected to launch their own 4G services this summer following the completion of Ofcom’s spectrum auction in February. This is expected to lead to a price war, bringing the cost of 4G down, as each operator tries to win market share from its competition.