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4G to overtake 3G by 2016

A research report shows 4G networks will handle more data traffic than 3G networks by 2016.

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A research report predicts 4G networks will capture two-thirds of data traffic by 2018.
A research report predicts 4G networks will capture two-thirds of data traffic by 2018.

4G networks will handle more data traffic than 3G networks by 2016, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research.

A recent report by the company shows that even though 4G's share of cellular subscriptions stood at a meagre 2.9% at the end of the second quarter this year, it is expected to account for slightly more than 20% of the total data consumed on mobile networks worldwide this year.

The company predicts that after surpassing 3G networks in 2016, 4G networks will go on to capture two-thirds of data traffic by 2018.

"4G data traffic will surge at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 82.2% between this year and 2018," states the report. "Underpinning this trend is the aggressive LTE network deployment by wireless operators and the expanding portfolio of smartphones and tablets, which are also falling in price."

Research associate at ABI Research, Ying Kang Tan, says the surge in 4G data traffic and aggressive LTE network deployment will lead to a surge in global annual video consumption, which will exceed 100 Exabytes in 2018. Despite growing at the slowest rate, Internet surfing will still contribute to 27% of the data traffic consumed, says the report.

"The result is that the revenue generated from data traffic, excluding that from texting, will increase at a CAGR of 7.9% between 2013 and 2018," says Jake Saunders, practice director and VP at ABI Research. He says voice service revenue will, however, still take up the bulk (52.7%) of the global total in 2018, and warns that operators need to continue to improve their voice quality and not lose sight of this segment.

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