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• Cost-optimised digital technologies are the fastest-growing digital licensed mobile radio (LMR) technology, as global LMR users migrate to digital.

• Deployments of cost-optimised digital technologies increased by 16 percent in 2017, reaching more than $1 billion in revenue, compared to an average of 7 percent growth for the overall LMR market.

• More than 3 million users adopted cost-optimised digital technologies for the first time in 2017, and the installed base of these types of solutions will more than double between 2017 and 2022.

Fastest growing global LMR technologies

Cost-optimised digital technologies — a term coined by IHS Markit to include digital mobile radio (DMR), next generation digital narrowband (NXDN) and professional digital trunking (PDT) — will remain the fastest growing global LMR technologies, at least until 2022. The global success of these technologies has been multi-faceted, as multi-tiered options, increasing competition and advances in capabilities have provided an increasingly cost-effective migration path from analogue-to-digital communications. Digital LMR users out-numbered those of analogue for the first time in 2017; however, there remains a huge opportunity for the market to continue to convert to digital.

Increasing awareness of the benefits of LMR technology for mission-critical and business-critical organisations around the world have facilitated this growth. More users are turning to trunked cost-optimised digital solutions to meet their scalable communications requirements. The deployment of trunked networks has increased significantly over the last couple of years, as transportation hubs, utility companies, mines, and public safety and security organisations have adopted these technologies.

The largest markets in 2017 were North America and Asia, with Asia being the fastest-growing market, accounting for half of all deployments

N. America and Asia among the largest markets

Cost-optimised digital technology has also been successful globally, irrespective of the level of economic development in any particular region. The largest markets in 2017 were North America and Asia, with Asia being the fastest-growing market, accounting for half of all deployments.

In developed regions, where the private sector accounts for a larger proportion of economic growth, transportation and the industrial sector will be the largest adopters of cost-optimised digital technologies. In developing regions, where there is no single national adoption of higher-end technologies (e.g., TETRA, TETRAPOL or P25), adoption rates by public safety and security organisations will be more prevalent.

Emergence of LTE and 5G technologies

This market will continue to grow, despite the developments of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology on the world stage. As nationwide networks continue to grow, private LTE networks have emerged in China, South America, Australia, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. Mexico built a nationwide LTE network — Red Compartida — in 2018. Other national LTE networks are expected to be deployed in South Korea and the United Kingdom, while Angola has opted for a TETRA and LTE convergence solution for its national communications network.

The United States has affirmed its commitment to rolling out its nationwide FirstNet LTE network, with AT&T securing a 25-year contract to build and maintain the network. Furthermore, the next generation of wireless communication is on the horizon, with commercial carriers in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, China and South Korea developing 5G capabilities that leverage new radio spectrum and technologies, to deliver ubiquity, low latency and future adaptability.

LMR technology provides mission-critical voice and data communications to public-safety organisations, along with airports and other mission-critical commercial organisations

The emergence of 5G is a fulcrum in the evolution of mobile technology, moving from a technology that has had transformative effects on personal communications, to one that transforms entire industries and economies.

Provides mission-critical voice and data communications

Despite the emergence of LTE and next-generation mobile broadband technology, IHS Markit projects LMR adoption will continue to grow. Because LMR technology provides mission-critical voice and data communications, public-safety organisations, along with airports and other mission-critical commercial organisations, require guaranteed communications in times of emergency.

As LTE becomes more established and proves its ability to meet the critical voice communications requirements of emergency services, IHS Markit projects that over the next few years, LTE will complement critical voice with data, rather than replace LMR altogether. Only in the medium- to long-term of five to ten years, as capital investments are considered in nationwide or large-scale deployments, will LTE substitute for TETRA, TETRAPOL and other high-end LMR technologies.

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