While commercial operations of 4G mobile communication services in Latin America, such as Brazil, Puerto Rico and Uruguay, began as early as 2011, 4G development has been progressing slowly, and there were only 32 million 4G subscribers in 2015, accounting for only 4.5% of all mobile communication users, according to Digitimes Research.
As of mid-2015, 56 mobile telecom carriers in 17 countries in Latin America had started 4G commercial operations, covering 89% of total population, and slightly over 50% of the 4G subscribers were in Brazil, Digitimes Research indicated. In 2015, however, 2G and WCDMA/HSPA (3G) subscribers in Latin America took up 49.5% and 45.1%, respectively, of all mobile communication users.
The slow 4G development in Latin America is because insufficient total bandwidth available for 4G operation, especially in 700MHz frequency band units, as well as lower smartphone penetration than the global average. During 2009-2015, Latin American countries released frequency band units with total bandwidth of 1,614MHz for 4G operation, with 2.6GHz band units accounting for 29.1% of total bandwidth, AWS (advanced wireless services, 1,710-1,755MHz for upload and 2,110-2,155MHz for download) band units for 52.7% and 700MHz band units, which have the largest spatial coverage in physical property, for only 18.2%.
In 2016, the total number of 4G subscribers in Latin America will grow to 50 million, taking up only 7% of all mobile communication users, while the proportion for 3G will exceed 50%.
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