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LTE network growth up 25% in 2014 – report

4G LTE

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has released figures detailing the growth of LTE network deployment in 2014.  According to the association, 360 global operators have commercially launched LTE networks and services in 124 countries.

In addition to the overall picture painted by the GSA, 96 LTE networks were allegedly launched globally in 2014. The most widely used spectrum band for LTE network is 1800 MHz, of which 158 were commercially launched in 76 countries. The spectrum frequency is prevalent in 44% of LTE network deployments, with the widest varieties of handsets supporting the 1800 MHz frequency.

Aside from 1800 MHZ, the 2.6GHz contiguous band is utilised in approximately 25% of LTE networks, with 800MHz being prevalent in approximately 20% of global operator LTE networks.

48 operators have made use of TDD spectrum pairing technologies in their rollout of LTE, with 17 of those combining the time-based duplexing with FDD, the frequency-based duplexing.

Speaking of the latest statistics being announced, the President of the GSA, Alan Hadden said: “LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation deployment was the major trend in 2014. 48 operators have commercially launched LTE-Advanced in 31 countries. Taking account of additional deployments in progress, trials and studies, GSA calculates almost 30% of LTE operators are currently investing in LTE-Advanced technology.

Here are some more of the key findings from the GSA’s “Evolution to LTE” report:

  • 611 operators are investing in LTE across 174 countries. This comprises 566 operator network deployment commitments in 166 countries (of which 360 networks have launched), and 45 pre-commitments trials in a further 8 countries.
  • The LTE commercial service footprint extended to a further 27 countries in 2014.
  • 80 operators in 42 countries i.e. over 22% of operators are investing in VoLTE deployments, studies or trials, with 14 operators having launched HD voice service using VoLTE in 7 countries. Many more launches are expected in 2015.
  • 107 operators in total, i.e. almost 30% of LTE operators have launched, are deploying or are trialling LTE-Advanced technologies. 49 operators have commercially launched LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation in 31 countries, and this figure could double in 2015.
  • 8 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 covering 3.2 billion people. 55 APT700 (band 28) user devices comprising smartphones, tablets, CPEs and MiFi hotspots have been announced.
  • LTE roaming is market ready and increasingly commonplace.
  • 373 million LTE subscriptions globally by Q3 2014 (according to Ovum) achieving 131% YoY growth.
  • The balance of regional shares continued to shift to Asia, driven by impressive growth in China.
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