The Long Term Revolution: Appetite Growing for Private LTE, but Market Yet to Take Off

The private Long Term Evolution (LTE) market is expected to show slow growth over the next 5 years, but longer term the amount of data connections are expected to soar, according to a recently published study from information and analytics provider IHS (NYSE: IHS).

The report, “Broadband PMR/LMR Solutions—World—2013”, examined the increasing data usage by licensed mobile radio (LMR) users over commercial cellular, private cellular—including private LTE—and traditional LMR networks. More than 400,000 data connections will be over private LTE networks by the end of 2017, IHS forecasts, with the number of connections projected to exceed 3.0 million by the end of 2023. Private networks allow mobile radio users to deploy and manage their own broadband network, providing much more control and guaranteed network access at broadband speeds, particularly essential in mission critical situations.

 “Demand for data is increasing today in many parts of the world, and users are expecting much more sophisticated and high-bandwidth applications over their networks,” noted Jennifer Shortland, analyst for critical communications at IHS. “However, functionality over traditional LMR networks is limited, and good data rates come at the cost of further spectrum allocation. Consequently, many users are opting to make do with data use over commercial cellular until private cellular networks become more readily available.”

To date, private cellular networks—and private LTE network uptake, in particular—remains slow. Despite some spectrum allocations in the United Arab Emirates and Australia, as well as the rollout of FirstNet in the United States, uptake globally remains hampered by the spectrum and funding issues. “While the industry appears to be moving toward private LTE solutions to address growing data demand, this transition will be exceptionally protracted,” Shortland added. “Spectrum allocation—particularly across Europe, where dedicated harmonized spectrum is expected to be assigned for public-safety users—will take many years.”

The findings of this research are taken from the IHS study “Broadband PMR/LMR Solutions – World – 2013.” The study analyzes the uptake of data connections of LMR and PMR (Professional Mobile Radio) users over commercial cellular, private cellular and traditional LMR networks. The study also looks at the changing demand for user equipment to meet these new data needs, and forecasts the longer-term uptake of private LTE connections by region.

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