Global capital spending on LTE technology is projected to jump in size to $24.3bn in 2013, according to an IHS iSuppli Wireless Communications report.
This rapid growth means that LTE will soon overtake 3.5G, which will end its five-year run this year as the dominant category in wireless infrastructure gear spending.
In 2013, 3.5G infrastructure technology will generate $19.8 billion in revenue.
"While 3.5G remains the dominant air interface technology in the mobile infrastructure market, the 4G LTE space has been gaining momentum," said Jagdish Rebello, Ph.D., director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics research at IHS.
This trend started in the second half of 2009 when some wireless operators in Europe, North America, Japan and South Korea started to deploy LTE technology.
A feature of 4G networks will be the growing importance of smaller cells, used to augment coverage or fill holes in areas of high data traffic.
Semiconductor suppliers are trying to address the small cell basestation design. For instance, Texas Instruments and Freescale Semiconductor are targeting the metro cell market with their digital signal processors.
Meanwhile, companies like PicoChip and Broadcom are trying to address the same issue with scaled-up versions of their system-on-chip solutions for femto base stations.