Mobile broadband connections are expected to grow 10-fold to reach around 100 million users by 2015, of which 15-20% will be over LTE, said Hadi Raad, principal at Booz & Co.
However, Raad believes that LTE will not be available commercially on a mass scale for about two years.
Raad said that while applications market today does not yet justify or require LTE, applications will evolve, and will become increasingly available in areas including mobile video and M2M communications. “When the level of applications penetration increases, and when there is the right mass to justify the investment on LTE, then the business case behind LTE will be viable,” Raad said. However, he added that operators need to evaluate the business case for LTE on a “case by case” basis.
He said: “For an integrated operator, the evaluation should be made by way of fixed fibre investment vs LTE vs HSPA+. That depends on the region where they are investing and the level of urbanisation or the population density of the region. Operators are playing within an ecosystem of different types of players, and they cannot by any means take the role of others in the ecosystem. They will need to find the right positioning and to cooperate with different types of players in this ecosystem.
“In general, over 70% of apps downloads are in the field of multimedia and entertainment. And I don’t expect this to be lower at all in the Middle East and Africa region. Apps downloads are expected to reach around 1.5 billion by 2015 in the MEA region, of which around 15% of them will be paid applications,” he added.