GSA confirms 422 LTE networks launched, Cat 6 LTE-Advanced deployments setting the pace

July 22, 2015: 422 operators have commercially launched LTE in 143 countries, according to data released this week by GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) in its latest update of the Evolution to LTE report.

106 operators commercially launched LTE service in the past year.

677 operators are investing in LTE across 181 countries. This comprises 638 firm network deployment commitments in 176 countries (of which 422 networks have launched), and 39 pre-commitment trials in a further 5 countries.

LTE-Advanced deployments have taken hold in all markets around the world. Now over 30% of operators are investing in LTE-Advanced system deployments, with the commercialisation of carrier aggregation the first feature to be exploited. 88 operators, i.e. over 20% of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service in 45 countries. 15 LTE-Advanced networks support Category 4 devices (above 100 Mbps up to 150 Mbps peak downlink speed) while 73 networks support Category 6 devices (above 150 Mbps up to 300 Mbps).

Alan Hadden, VP of Research, GSA said: “83% of LTE-Advanced networks support Category 6 and the majority (37) support the top rate of 300 Mbps”

Several operators are trialling LTE-Advanced technology capable of supporting Category 9 devices (above 300 Mbps up to 450 Mbps) and beyond.

The most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3). LTE1800 is now used in 187 commercially launched networks in 89 countries representing over 44% of LTE network deployments. The next most popular contiguous band for LTE systems is 2.6 GHz (band 7) being deployed in 100 networks. 800 MHz (band 20) is by far the next most popular spectrum choice, used by 91 i.e. more than 1 in 5 LTE operators.

While most operators (90%) 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. Currently 59 operators, which is almost 1 in 7 of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode in 35 countries. Band 40 (2.3 GHz) is the most widely deployed spectrum. 17 operators have deployed both FDD and TDD modes in their networks. Converged FDD and TDD LTE networks is gaining traction amongst many operators.

The VoLTE market continues to advance. The report confirms that 103 operators are investing in VoLTE deployments, trials or studies in 49 countries from which 25 operators in 16 countries have commercially launched VoLTE-based HD voice service, compared to just 3 launched in March 2014. Many more launches are anticipated in 2015. GSA announced last month that 219 VoLTE-capable devices (including carrier and frequency variants) including 198 smartphones have been announced.

11 operators have commercially launched LTE using APT700 (700 MHz) band 28 FDD 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. 139 APT700 (band 28) user devices comprising smartphones, tablets, CPEs and MiFi hotspots have been announced. 

The Evolution to LTE report (July 21, 2015) is exclusively researched and published by GSA and is the global industry reference on the status of the LTE market. The report is free for registered site users to download via the link on http://www.gsacom.com

Numerous charts, maps etc. confirming the progress of mobile broadband developments including LTE and HSPA are available on the website home page and http://www.gsacom.com/news/statistics

For information about LTE user devices see the Status of the LTE Ecosystem report, which is free to download via the link on http://www.gsacom.com

Registration page for new users: http://www.gsacom.com/user/register

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GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) represents GSM/EDGE/WCDMA-HSPA/HSPA+, LTE/LTE-Advanced and future 5G suppliers. GSA brings together a global industry community of telecoms professionals through its website, reports, information papers and practical activities to inform, influence, educate, explain and promote the opportunities enabled by mobile broadband systems. The GSA website www.gsacom.com has 69,000 registered users for knowledge gathering and information sharing of key facts, trends and analysis, and 24,500 connections on our social network platforms LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Over 1 million GSA reports, presentations, information papers, maps, charts and other resources were downloaded from www.gsacom.com in under five years.

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