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‘LTE users to hit 42m in 2013’

The number of Koreans who use smartphones with the Long Term Evolution network is expected to pass the 40-million subscriber mark in 2013, a Seoul-based consulting firm forecast on Tuesday.

ROA Consulting said that the number of subscribers may hit 42 million, marking a new era in the domestic telecommunications industry.

According to the company’s report, about seven out of 10 mobile device users in Korea will use a smartphone with 4G LTE technology in 2013.

This represents a significant jump from the latest estimates of around 8.25 million LTE subscribers as of July 2012, the Korean consulting firm said.

The company, deeming 2013 as “the start of the LTE 2.0 era,” predicted that domestic telecommunications providers such as SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus will focus on different aspects of the LTE network industry in the coming months.

While in the past telecommunications companies worked to expand the LTE network coverage, they will now focus on enhancing and stabilizing the existing LTE network, offering a better user experience for consumers, and increasing data storage capabilities, ROA Consulting said in the report.

Long Term Evolution, or LTE technology, refers to the latest 4G wireless communication network that offers more benefits for users such as faster downloading speeds, and stronger, clearer call reception on smartphones.

The network is also a plus for consumers who need a lot of data and content storage, as it is capable of transmitting larger units of data compared to its predecessors. It is commonly associated with smartphones, but can also be used for other devices, such as tablet PCs.

ROA Consulting expects the number of domestic LTE subscribers to grow to about 15.9 million by the end of this year. There were 1.2 million LTE users in Korea in 2011, the company said.

By Renee Park (