Report: LTE wireless networks will cover 50% of Africa by 2018

However, LTE network population coverage will be far from homogenous across the region.

Feb 5th, 2014

According to ABI Research, by the end of 2018, half of the African population will be covered by LTE networks, as LTE base station deployment on that continent swells at a CAGR of 40% over the next five years.

However, the latest research from ABI notes that LTE network population coverage will be far from homogenous across the region, with a few countries such as Angola and Namibia nearing the halfway point already, while wealthier nations like Botswana and Gabon have yet to deploy the advanced technology. “Part of the underlying reason for this digital divide is the different types of initiatives driving LTE roll-out,” notes Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI.

Tan adds, “We expect wholesale or shared networks such as the joint venture between the Rwandan government and Korea Telecom, and the public-private partnership proposed by the Kenyan government, to spur LTE deployment. While the public-private partnership has stalled, the government is considering a spectrum sharing agreement to resolve the matter. Other initiatives such as a pure LTE operator, Smile, will also introduce new dynamics into the wireless market.”

See also: Survey identifies operators’ LTE deployment challenges

Meanwhile, African LTE cellular subscriptions are projected to multiply at a CAGR of 128% to surpass 50 million at the end of 2018 -- and nearly half are expected to be able to use VoLTE services.

“What makes this exponential subscription growth possible is the increasing affordability of LTE handsets a few years down the road,” notes Jake Saunders, VP and practice director at ABI. “LTE handset shipments will increase by 75% annually on average in the next five years. Given the poor fixed-line infrastructure, people will depend on the wireless network for Internet access. There is a strong business case for mobile operators to roll-out LTE early to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The 4G Subscribers, Devices and Networks market data from ABI Research contains regional as well as selected country-level segmentation for the 4G market, including mobile WiMAX and LTE. Segmentation includes subscribers, devices and base stations. The findings are part of the firm's LTE & 5G Research Service. Learn more.

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