Global 4G market to grow to $1.6 Trillion by 2024

As of 2019, as per a survey taken by S&P Global, out of 42 countries, Denmark has the world’s highest 4G penetration at South Korea at 97.5%, Japan at 96.3%, Norway at 95.5%. Hong Kong at 94.1% and US at 95% respectively.

  • Definition / Scope
  • Market Overview
  • Market Risks
  • Top Market Opportunities
  • Market Trends
  • Industry Challenges
  • Technology Trends
  • Other Key Market Trends
  • Market Size and Forecast
  • Market Outlook
  • Technology Roadmap
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Competitive Factors
  • Key Market Players
  • Strategic Conclusion
  • References

Definition / Scope

4G is also known as the ‘Fourth Generation’ of mobile communication. 4G is the upgraded version of 3G which also guarantees greater speed and performance.

With these features, users have access to various services, increased coverage, and convenience of a single device, more reliable wireless access even with failures or loss of one or more networks.

4G uses the Multiple Input Multiple Output Technology that uses signal multiplexing between several transmitting antennas and time or frequency.

In line with that, 4G technology can be integrated with existing platforms (towers and available antennae) quite adeptly, thus eliminating new hardware investment costs.

However, with the operation of 4G, the problem of availability of network esp. in remote places would become more than protruding as this technology is far more advanced than the previous standards.

Major Requirement and solutions for management of 4G include:

  • Seamless handoff: The handoff operation should be quick so that handoff latency is less in order to reduce packet drop as much as possible.
  • Signalling traffic overhead: The number of signalling packets to the related databases must be minimized to avoid load to network.
  • Quality of Service (QoS): The mobility management scheme should support establishment of new QoS reservation in order to deliver maximum traffic but reduce the disruptive effect.
  • Fast Security: Different levels of security must be supported such as data encryption and user authentication while limiting the traffic and time of security process
  • Bandwidth: Higher bandwidth ranges assure lower call dropping and call blocking probabilities.
  • Power Consumption: The issue of power saving arises in new network discovery because unnecessary interface activation can increase power consumption. It is also important to incorporate power consumption factor during handoff decision.
  • User Preferences: It could be preferred networks, user application requirements in real- or non-real time, different types of services such as video, voice and data, quality of service among others.

Market Overview

As of 2019, as per a survey taken by S&P Global, out of 42 countries, Denmark has the world’s highest 4G penetration at South Korea at 97.5%, Japan at 96.3%, Norway at 95.5%. Hong Kong at 94.1% and US at 95% respectively.

In terms of the regional analysis, Asia Pacific and Scandinavian countries dominate the club greater than 50% 4G penetration in the world further boosted by small geographic footprints, growing economy and population concentrated in urban areas.

In addition, these countries are also at the forefront of 5G development and testing and are home to some of the world’s largest mobile equipment manufacturers; TNT.

Market Risks

Major threats of the 4G technology include:

Wireless APN Flooding: The bandwidth of 4G is expanding with rising demand for the technology but it is also inviting cybercriminals by creating a larger attack surface.

There is flood of data present with the 4G technology and lack of countermeasures to protect this data will lead hackers to consume the bandwidth.

In turn, this could obstruct users who have paid for 4G network who would actually receive 2G speed due to exposure to bandwidth. Finally, this will also negative affect the wireless architecturally private network (APN) that connects mobile devices to 4G networks.

Mobile to mobile attacks: 4G traffic is all IP based and usually travels directly from mobile to mobile device inside wireless APN. A P2P communication reduces traffic but leads to mobile to mobile attacks. A compromised mobile device can target and scan large numbers of other, locally adjacent, mobile devices at once, and consuming huge amounts of spectrum.

In addition, a mobile to mobile attack drains the battery of the victim mobile phone by maintaining a network connection. In an attack, the traffic may enter the network from one mobile device, perform an automated scan to look for devices with similar IP numbers and reach out to those numbers.

In next stage, the attacker begins to create a link and attack other number of devices at once.

Content and media delivery: Media and content such as music on demand or movies are another aspects of 4G broadband system. Carriers should expect attackers to attempt to disturb content delivery systems during peak times.

Internet criminals and other malicious parties are skilled at releasing their attacks during major events for example, World Cup matches, elections, or royal weddings.

Additionally, mass disruption of a broadcast service will be much more visible than a large number of usually unrelated dropped calls which will then hamper the reputation of the company among consumers.

Top Market Opportunities

Multimode Software Application: 4G technology has a unique application of accessing several wireless networks. The software is capable of high-level customization at user-level end.

Companies must leverage on this software as it allows the user device to adept itself to various wireless interfaces networks in order to provide constant net access with high data rate.

The software provides multiple benefits for instance, once the voice and data networks are superposed, there will suddenly be millions of devices on the network cloud. Also multiple networks are accessed through multimode operation.

This multimode device architecture will also improve completion and expand effective coverage area.

Video Network Coding: The demand for HD is increasing every day and it is more than the expected bandwidth support available at present.

Network coding gives opportunity to reduce the required number of packets to complete a transmission over noisy or unreliable networks compared to one-coded version thus, increasing output.

Network coding offers exciting possibilities for the efficient transmission of video over wireless and bottleneck networks.

Market Trends

The obstacles, which could rise across the smooth implementation of 4G, are as follows:

Security: In the 4G technology deployment, the first thing to consider is security of cellular wireless network and identify the security objectives. The information generated by or that which is related to a user needs to be adequately protected against misuse or misappropriation.

Lack of the level of protection offered to users and providers of services is considered to a threat to users and eventually to the reputation of the provider. Without implementation of security features, 4G networks cannot be extended.

Handoff delay: This factor i.e. Handoff delay poses another important QoS (Quality of Service)-related issue in 4G wireless networks. As the handoff process is taking place, the user generally experiences a major drop in QoS that will obstruct the performance of both upper-layer protocols and applications.

When there is a potential for substantial disparity between senders’ and receivers’ device capabilities, deploying a receiver-specific filter in part of the network close to the source becomes a necessity to reduce traffic and satisfy consumers’ need of QoS.

4G supportive devices showing less battery backup: In 4G supportive devices, because of the presence of large number of transmitters and receivers, the battery of the devices runs off quite quickly.

As mobile devices are getting smaller in size due to large scale integration and micro architecture, the 4G devices battery life needs to be enhanced through development of a powerful battery.

However, in order to do so, the device must also increase in size which is not recommended. Thus, the problem of battery drainage is yet to be solved and remains one of the biggest obstructions in smooth operation of 4G technology.

Industry Challenges

Some of the major challenges of the 4G technology are as follows:

Network discovery: Network devices will be multi-mode, multi-access and reconfigurable. In that case, multiple networks are used simultaneously for different applications.

In such environment, a terminal must be able to discover what networks are available for use. This problem is currently unsolved in the technology and remains a challenge.

Access technologies: The heterogeneous wireless environment of 4G consists of wireless environment and overlapped radio coverage. So, a mobile user needs to switch between access networks to maintain service continuity and optimize service quality.

Thus, dealing with diverse access technologies is a challenge for the design of 4G.

Charging and billing: In the 4G ecosystem, multiple service providers are involved during a session, if the users switch from one service provider network to one or more service provider networks. The single session in that case would consist of number of charges.

In addition, different charging schemes are used for different types of services. One challenge that exists is to keep track of the charges per use per segment of a session that used their network service or content.

There will also be requirement of more charging agreements between the service providers in order to allow roaming during a session in order to get a continued service as far as customer is concerned.

Congestion control: It is another critical issue in 4G networks. Avoidance or prevention of the congestion and detection and recovery after congestion are the two basic approaches taken towards the congestion control.

Thus, the challenge is to implement the admission control and scheduling techniques for scheme avoidance and introduction of flow control and feedback traffic management for detection and recovery.

Technology Trends

Some of the emerging technologies in 4G such as WiMAX and LTE are stronger when compared to Wi-Fi. These technologies have strong QOS (Quality of Service) and wider coverage. Some of the common aspects of WiMAX and LTE include, same licensed spectrum, 253 bands among others.

Based on point-to multipoint connections, both telecommunication technologies provide broadband wireless service. Through Base Station, mobile subscribers such as smart phones/laptops get connected to internet, while BS controls the channel access of mobile subscribers.

Frequency-division duplex (FDD) as well as time-division duplex (TDD) systems are being supported by both WiMAX and LTE.

Other technologies include, MU-MIMO (Multiple User MIMO) which is a technology that deals in transmitting parallel & unique data streams in the same frequency-time to multiple users. (Spatial multiplexing) and also thereby improves sector/site capacity throughput.

Pricing Trends

Some of the major pricing trends of 4G technology include:

Gigabyte prices of 4G usage in 4MNO markets have been falling faster than 3 MNO markets. As of 2019, the gap between the median gigabyte prices of 4G smartphone plans in 3MNO vs. 4MNO markets widened further 113%. It was 81% in 2018 and 55% in 2017 respectively.

The prices of Canadian, Japanese and US markets are universe. In addition, 4MNO competitive markets such as that in European region and ultra-competitive Israeli 5MNO markets have lower prices for technology. For instance 4G median price in Canada was 24 times higher while in Japan and US was 15 times higher than 4-MNO European markets.

Across the European region, Italian gigabyte prices are continuing to fall down at 87% y-o-y. Similarly, another prominent market, Dutch gigabyte prices have stopped falling after the unconditional approval of T-Mobile and Tele 2 merger.

As of 2019, more than 50 operators around the world have launched 4G smartphone plans with truly unlimited mobile data volume in 23 out of 41 EU countries and 28 OCED markets. The average price of the plan is around $33.3 respectively.

Other Key Market Trends

Focus on emerging applications and demand drivers of 5G: The big winners of 4G technology are not the builders of network infrastructure but the ones that leverage 4G capabilities to build revolutionary hardware and services.

The 4G is further evolving with the help of connected technologies or IoT products and other technologies such as AR/VR, robotics, autonomous vehicles which are all enabled by 4G. All these connected devices are being added to the 4G network.

Changing Dynamics: Wireless telecoms, mobile phone producers and other hardware companies such as several communication equipment providers have shifted to services over the course of 4G technology development.

For instance, mobile phones have become increasingly saturated market in developing countries, other telecommunication companies have also hinged to digital content and streaming services to gain new revenue sources from consumers.

Thus, in near future as 5G becomes more common, entirely new industries might appear in the scene and businesses in more mature industries may enter adjacent markets to seek new sources of revenue.

Market Size and Forecast

As of 2019, the global 4G market was valued at $322.77 billion and is growing at CAGR of 38% between 2019-2024 periods. By 2024, the market size is expected to reach $1.6 trillion

According to the regional analysis:

  • North America: It is the largest regional market and is poised to gain significant market share over the review period. As of 2019, the region accounted approx. 52% of the global market share making it valued at $168.2 billion.
  • APAC: It is not only the second largest but also the fastest growing region and expected to retain its growth during the review period of next five years. As of 2019, it had approximately 35.9% of the market share i.e. $115.8 billion dollar worth market share is accounted by the region.
  • Europe: It is significant market for 4G. However, entire Europe, Latin America, Middle East and Africa accounted only 12% of the global market share in 2019 i.e. market value of $38.7 billion respectively.

Market Outlook

The global 4G technology market is set to rise at a CAGR rate of 38% between 2019-2024 market size reaching approximately $1.6 trillion by 2024.

According to the regional analysis,

  • APAC region has registered growth rate of 22% between 2019-2024 period and it is the highest CAGR among all regions. By 2024, the market size of APAC 4G market is set to reach a value of $243.1 billion respectively.
  • North America is also set to rise. Most of the growth in the region is contributed by early adoption of various ground-breaking technologies and constant innovations. Also the funding on research & development projects and establishment of several technology giant companies is also leading to advancements in the region. During the CAGR period, the region is set to grow at 17% market size reaching $339.7 during 2024.
  • The third most growing market is European region, factors influencing growth in the sector include, growth of overall telecom industry, investments towards expansion of proper infrastructure among others. The region is set to grow at 14% CAGR between 2019-2024 period where the market size is expected to reach $65.5 billion

Technology Roadmap

5G technology: Also known as Fifth Generation mobile technology, the technology has allowed cellphones to be used within a very high bandwidth. It is the most high value technology innovated in the world at present.

Although its use cases are limited as of now, 5G is expected to garner huge demand in near future. The 5G can enable not only smartphones but also other devices including, MP3 recording, video player, large phone memory, dialling speed, audio player and much more.

6G & 7G technologies: Both technologies will integrate all wireless mobile networks with satellites to get a global coverage. Although, “Sixth Generation” cellular network concept is still underdeveloped, it is assumed that 6G will offer the speed of 1GB data transfer.

The 6th generation mobile communication networks will be able to integrate satellite communication networks and 5G to make global coverage.

On the other hand, 7G system can be supported by global navigation satellite system, the telecommunication satellite system, the earth image satellite system and the 6G cellular system. 7G is yet to be conceptualized fully.

Competitive Landscape

4G technology rise is leading a greater impact upon other various industries which involves network builders to creator of end-user applications and devices, semiconductors and even smartphones.

Some of the 4G related segments and their growth in the increasing network connectivity includes:

  • Wireless telecoms: They are the primary builders of networks including successive generation such as 3G, 4G and 5G. These service providers spend substantial amount of money as capital expenditure to meet new global industry standards.
  • Communication equipment providers: They are the suppliers of network infrastructure hardware, enabling creation of networks capable of processing speeds outlined by global standards. These companies are often direct recipients of wireless telecom capital expenditures.
  • Mobile Phones: They are also one of the first smart devices invented in the world. Before the coming of 4G, mobile phones were limited to voice calling, text messages and low-quality video. With 4G, mobile phones became more portal for customers to access social media, internet browsing and real-time video streaming.
  • Semiconductors: They create computing chips that enable the connectivity of devices, phones and rest of the devices in IoT space. Chipmakers are regarded as important in 4G especially for producing GPU for mobile phones which is essential in mobile gaming and video calling. Further, these chips are being considered for the emerging applications like AR/VR, robotics and other connected devices.
  • Social Media: It refers to end-user applications and websites that enable social networking and information sharing. Social media was also one of the first applications used by people with the functionality of 4G. The industry is now mobile first only because of 4G.

Competitive Factors

Some of the top country markets in the global 4G scene are as follows:

  • Switzerland: The country has the highest GDP per capita while the estimated 4G penetration in the country is limited to only 34% annually. Most of the operators based in the country leverage LTE and the 4G penetration is set to rise at 10% annually from 2020 onwards.
  • Turkey: Despite of the challenging economic conditions and political disturbances prevailing in the country, the market realized quick adoption of 4.5G (LTE-A) services. The 4G rollout was initiated in 2016 by three Turkish operators namely, Turkcell, Turk Telekom and Vodafone Group Turkey.
  • Poland: The country has been able to gain recent success in spectrum allocation and infrastructure build outs which has propelled Poland’s 4G adoption rate beyond the set expectations of the operators in the country.
  • China: Most of the mobile operators in China are seeking to pool their telecommunication towers and assets after the government in China required them to form a tower-sharing JV. Also China has laid out “Broadband China Plan” which aims to achieve rural 4G penetration of around 85% by 2020.
  • UAE: The penetration of 4G as of 2019 was estimated to be around 30% of total mobile subs or 3.8 million mobile subs using 4G. Most of the connection is still 3G at 10.5 million i.e. 55%. However, the rate of adoption of 4G is rising at 4% annually.
  • Israel: The country’s 4G subscription penetration reached almost 44% in 2018 and further the penetration is set to rise due to demand of data among public. Also, the Israeli market is at the forefront in the 5G technology deployment among country markets in the world.

Key Market Players

Key global players in the 4G technology market in 2019 (i.e. Telecom operators) are as follows:

  • China Mobile Ltd.:

The Company is one of the major provider of telecom services in China with more than 925 million subscribers as of 2019. It is also the top telecom company in the world.

The market value of the firm was around $217 billion in 2019 and between 2018-2019, its customer base grew by almost 4.5%.

  • Verizon Communications Inc.:

 It is also the largest telecom company based in the US. As of 2019, its market value was expected to be around $221.3 billion. The sales amounted to approximately $131.8 billion.

The company was incorporated in 2000 and resulted as a merger between Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. The company currently operates in 150 countries.

  • AT&T:

AT&T Inc. is the second largest telecom company in the US with market value of approximately $211.6 billion as of 2019. It provides 4G services in more than 200 countries and operates more than 34,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots.

It has a customer base of around 355 people. In 2017, the company expanded AT&T GigaPower, an ultra-fast Internet service, to 56 metropolitan locations in the US, with plans for further expansion.

  • Vodafone Group Plc.

The company is situated in UK and is servicing around 500 million mobile consumers as of 2019. As of 2019, its market value was around $48.3 billion. Between 2014-2016, Vodafone acquired 3 companies namely, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Kabel Deutschland, and Ono.

Around 27% of revenue comes from mobile out-of-bundle sales which also includes 4G service. Vodafone is considered as one of the most valuable brand in the UK and hosts operations in 26 countries around the world.

  • Nippon Telegraph & Telephone Corp.

It was founded in Japan where fast internet connection is abundant. As of 2019, the net worth of the company was $81.5 billion. Although company is a leader in 4G service provider, it gains substantial amount of revenue from fiber internet connections rather than bundle packages.

In near future, the company is looking to earn from the sales of cloud computing to further expand its customer base.

Top Players in 4G related segments:

Wireless Infrastructure companies:

  • Huawei
  • Erricsson
  • Nokia
  • ZTE
  • Samsung

Smartphone companies:

  • Samsung
  • Huawei
  • Xiaomi
  • Apple
  • Oppo

Semiconductor companies:

  • Intel
  • Samsung
  • Taiwan Semiconductor
  • Qualcomm
  • Broadcom

Communication Equipment Providers:

  • Huawei
  • Cisco Systems
  • Fujitsu
  • NEC Corporation
  • Corning
Company NameFounded inMarket Value (2019, in billion dollars)
China Mobile Ltd.2000217
Verizon Communication Inc.1983131.8
Vodafone Plc.198248.3

Strategic Conclusion

In the future, operators must seek to increase 4G adoption by offering enticing yet commercially sustainable tariff models such as data sharing, converged bundles and data-centric pricing.

In failure to do so, these operators risk being less able to exploit on data growth relative to other countries.

In long term, low adoption of 4G would also reduce to shut down older 2G and 3G networks to reform landscape for more efficient LTE Advanced and 5G technologies.


  • smartphone-companies/-Worlds-5-most-biggest-smartphone-companies/photolist/65227381.cms


  • LTE: Long Term Evolution
  • LTE-A – Long Term Evolution- Advanced
  • WiMaX :Worldwide Interoperability of Microwave Access
  • QoS: Quality of Service
  • JV: Joint Venture
  • 4G: Fourth Generation
  • 5G: Fifth Generation
  • TDD: Time Division Duplexing
  • FDD: Frequency Division Duplexing
  • MU-MIMO: Multiple Input Multiple Output
  • APN:Access Point Name
  • P2P: Peer to Peer

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