Around 109 million customers will use LTE services by 2014, and 55 million will use mobile Wimax, but the two 4G technologies will still account for just 2.6% of total global mobile connections.
"The migration to 4G will be neither easy nor overnight," says a new report from market analyst firm Ovum.
Most growth will come from 3G expansion in this period, with the rise of data rich devices and applications in developed countries, and increasing penetration in emerging economies.
However, growth in mobile operators' revenues will drop in the short term because of the recession. They will cross the $1 trillion barrier in 2011 - though this is a year later than previously forecast, according to estimates from Ovum.
The recession will cause a short-term slowdown in services revenues although "the recessionary impact will be relatively muted compared to other industries, and mobile is expected to recover strongly from 2011," according to senior analyst Steven Hartley.
He forecasts that mobile connections will grow by 59% between 2008 and 2014, to 6.42 billion, for global penetration of 89%. This trend will push down ARPU, making network efficiency increasingly important.
Mobile penetration should reach 69% in Africa and 78% in Asia-Pacific by 2014, while other regions will see 100% or more, and will rely for growth on multiple SIM ownership and demand for data rich devices.
However, voice will remain the largest revenue driver, accounting for 69% of global revenue by 2014.
Source: Rethink Wireless