Deployment of LTE in 1800 MHz spectrum is a promising opportunity and option in several markets.
This fact was recognized earliest by the Ministry of Transport & Communications in Finland, and their decision in April 2009 to allow LTE to be deployed in this spectrum enables the possibility to provide networks for fast mobile broadband services with a substantially wider coverage at a lower cost than when using 2.6 GHz, which requires a considerably larger number of base stations.
The decision also means that wireless networks capable of transferring data more efficiently could now be introduced (in Finland) more rapidly. As a result, mobile network operators in Finland are planning deployments of LTE in re-farmed 1800 MHz spectrum. In the first stage, LTE has been launched using 2.6 GHz channels, with the expectation that 1800 MHz will be used to extend the geographical reach of LTE across the country. The motivations are clear:
Coverage area approx. 2x compared to deploying in 2.6 GHz band
Possibility to re-use assets including antenna cables of GSM1800 or WCDMA-HSPA2100
Possibility to deploy multi-RAN with simultaneous LTE and GSM capabilities
1800 MHz band widely available throughout Europe, APAC, MEA, and some regions of South America – thus having the potential to be a core – and global – band for LTE deployments
Operators often have sufficient bandwidth in 1800 MHz to secure the full benefits of LTE
Often easier to re-farm than 900 MHz
User device eco-system is building; a good choice of user devices expected by end 2011
Can be a transition strategy between HSPA and availability of new (e.g. 2.6 GHz, digital dividend) spectrum
LTE1800 Global Status: operator plans