The 4G LTE standard is responsible for ushering in the modern mobile experience—one in which data-intensive activities like video viewing have finally become a reality.
According to 5G Americas and Ovum, worldwide 4G LTE subscription numbers continued to grow substantially during the yearlong period ending in Q3 2017, increasing by 838 million to hit a total of 2.5 billion.
The two companies reported that 4G LTE accounted for nearly one-third of all mobile phone subscriptions by the end of 2017's third quarter.
The mobile data standard's penetration rate was highest in North America, at 94%.
That was significantly higher than the penetration seen in the second-ranked region, Oceania and Eastern and Southeastern Asia, at 58%.
North America also accounted for the highest proportion—73%—of 4G LTE subscriptions worldwide.
While 4G continues to make strides, uptake of the newer, faster 5G mobile broadband standard is close on the horizon. A recent study from Strategy Analytics estimated there will be 1.5 billion 5G-enabled smartphones shipped in 2025, up from 2 million in 2019.
Ericsson also expects a fast uptake of 5G over the coming year, projecting that there will be 1 billion subscriptions by the end of 2023.
5G Americas took note of the potential of 5G to upend the mobile broadband landscape, but remained bullish on 4G LTE's short-term prospects.
"Currently operators are deploying more advanced LTE capabilities, and LTE subscriptions are continuing to grow at a fantastic rate," said Chris Pearson, president of 5G Americas.