New iPad May Drive 25M Increase in Global LTE Shipments

LTE Global ShipmentsGlobe image via Shutterstock.

Apple’s adoption of LTE functionality in its mobile devices may help increase projected sales of LTE devices worldwide by 25 million units, according to DigiTimes. While Apple was by no means the first manufacturer to offer mobile devices with LTE capability, it seems that the Cupertino-based company may provide the impetus to drive LTE adoption over the tipping point and push the entire industry forward this year.

With the launch of the LTE-capable iPad worldwide over the next three weeks and the next iPhone, also likely to be LTE-capable, later this year, Taiwanese smartphone manufacturers are projecting a large increase in LTE-enabled smartphone shipments for 2012, up from an initial estimate of 25-30 million to 45-50 million units.

While Apple’s impending iPhone refresh will likely represent a sizable portion of the 20 to 25 million unit increase, industry analysts believe that other manufacturers will use Apple’s popularity as an opportunity to add LTE capability to most of their flagship products.

One stumbling block for the LTE initiatives of Apple and other manufacturers may be the current fragmentation of LTE standards around the globe, with varying frequencies for the spectrum being utilized in different parts of the world. For example, LTE in North America operates on 700MHz and 2,100MHz frequencies while Western Europe uses 800MHz and 2,600MHz. As a result, the iPad shipping to Europe next week won’t be able to access 4G LTE. In fact, as it currently appears, no iPad outside of North America will be able to access current LTE networks.

So, while we may see millions of more smartphones with LTE capability ship this year, they might not be too useful outside of their home markets.