LTE-A & VoLTE Rollout

GSA confirms 393 LTE networks launched, year end forecast raised, LTE-Advanced and VoLTE deployments booming. April 9, 2015: 393 operators have commercially launched LTE in 138 countries. This is according to data released today by GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers Association) in the latest update of the Evolution to LTE report.107 operators commercially launched LTE service in the past year.644 operators are investing in LTE across 181 countries with trials in a further 5 countries.

GSA raised its year-end forecast to 460 commercially launched LTE networks.

LTE-Advanced deployment continues as a major trend with 116 operators, i.e. around 30%, investing in carrier aggregation technology. Network capacity, efficiencies and peak speeds are rising dramatically. 64 operators, almost 1 in 6, have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service in 39 countries.

Alan Hadden, VP of Research, GSA said: “Interest in VoLTE has surged and over twice as many operators are investing in VoLTE compared to a year ago. 16 operators have launched HD voice service enabled by VoLTE in 7 countries, compared to only 3 launched in March 2014. Many more launches will happen in 2015.”

The most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3). 176 LTE1800 networks, almost 50% higher than a year ago, are commercially launched in 86 countries. 1800 MHz is used today in 45% of LTE network deployments and continues to dominate the user devices ecosystem. Over 43% of LTE user terminals can operate in the 1800 MHz band. The next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is 2.6 GHz (band 7) and is used in almost 25% of networks.

800 MHz (band 20) is by far the most popular sub 1 GHz coverage band choice for LTE and gained share with over 1 in 5 operators globally currently using this spectrum.

While most operators deployed LTE networks in paired spectrum using the FDD mode, the LTE TDD mode (TD-LTE) for operators with unpaired spectrum continues to develop in all regions, and particularly in China. 54 operators, more than 1 in 8 of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode in 34 countries. Band 40 (2.3 GHz) is the most widely deployed spectrum. 16 operators have deployed both FDD and TDD modes in their networks. Converged LTE networks with both FDD and TDD modes deployed is a growing priority for many operators.

10 operators have commercially launched LTE using APT700 (700 MHz) band 28 spectrum. APT700 is a key coverage band for LTE with near-global market potential. 42 countries have allocated, committed to or recommend APT700 band 28 spectrum for LTE deployments, in markets approaching 4 billion people. 76 APT700 (band 28) user devices comprising smartphones, tablets, CPEs and MiFi hotspots have been announced.

Tim Frost
Strategic Technology Manager, Calnex Solutions.

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