LTE spectrum fragmentation delaying LTE roll out report suggests

The fragmented nature of potential LTE spectrum across the world is slowing down operator decision making processes, a report claims. The LTE Spectrum Strategies and Forecasts to 2016 report from Informa Telecoms and Media, reveals that despite a near universal commitment to LTE as a standard, there is still widespread uncertainly over spectrum policy and availability worldwide.

Many regulators are unclear over when and where to free up new spectrum and this is forcing equipment and device vendors to make difficult choices over which frequencies to support in their chipsets, which in turn will have an impact on how quickly operators roll out LTE networks.

“Given the design and integration constraints associated with providing multiband support for LTE, device vendors and chipset providers in particular will want to consider the size of the global addressable market for each band, as well as regional band adoption patterns and band pairings, before configuring their products to support specific band combinations,” said Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa.

The report also identified a range of distinct pairings and groupings designed to provider operators with a combination of capacity and coverage.

  • North America 700+2100
  • Latin America 700+2100 ; 700+2600
  • Asia Pacific 700+1800; 700+2100; 800+1800; 1800+2600; 2300+2600
  • Western Europe 800+2600; 800+1800+2600
  • Eastern Europe 800+2600; 1800+2600
  • Africa 2100+2600
  • Middle East 900+1800

While this flexibility can be seen as a positive for LTE, it means that the chipset manufacturers and OEMs need to take great care to understand what frequencies operators require in order to achieve economies of scale.

“Even before international roaming between LTE networks becomes an issue, the need to support intra-regional and even within-country roaming will govern band selection as part of the necessary rationalization of bands supported by LTE devices,” said, Julian Bright, senior analyst at Informa and author of report.

The report also notes the growing support for TD-LTE bands in markets outside of its traditional major markets of China and India. The Asia-Pacific markets also show the greatest diversity in LTE spectrum band adoption, with no fewer than eleven bands to be used.

The sixth annual LTE Asia conference, takes place in Suntec, Singapore, on the 5-7th September 2011

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