LTE Powering Forward, 274 Operators Launched in 101 Countries Says GSA

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The latest update to the Evolution to LTE report from the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 274 LTE networks have commercially launched in 101 countries. 11 operators have commercially launched LTE services so far this year.

119 LTE operators commercially launched service on LTE networks in the past 12 months, more than 76% annual growth.

The majority of LTE operators have deployed the FDD mode of the standard. The most widely used band in network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3) which is used in 43% of deployments. 117 operators have commercially launched LTE1800 (band 3) systems in 62 countries either as a single band system, or as part of a multi-band deployment. 1800 MHz is the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, and will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband. GSA recently confirmed that over half of newly launched user terminals support operation in 1800 MHz spectrum, and very soon 1800 MHz will have the largest device ecosystem.

The next most popular contiguous bands are 2.6 GHz (band 7) used in 27% of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800 MHz (band 20) used in 13% of networks, and AWS (band 4) used in 9% of networks.

With an estimated 40 million LTE subscriptions being gained worldwide in Q4 2013, the year-end total finished at around 200 million.

Interest in the TDD mode (TD-LTE) continues to grow. Worldwide, 30 LTE TDD systems have been commercially launched in 21 countries, including a second network in China earlier this month. Now around 11% of live LTE networks incorporate the TDD mode (sometimes referred to as TD-LTE), confirming growing momentum. 17 operators have launched LTE service using only the TDD mode, while 13 operators have deployed both FDD and TDD modes in their networks.

The two modes of LTE (FDD, TDD) each have similar performance and benefit equivalently from evolution of the LTE standard, the commercial benefits arising from LTE's global economies of scale can be leveraged in FDD and TDD network deployments and user terminal production, and suppliers are increasingly building in support for both FDD and TDD modes in their LTE systems and devices products.

Earlier this month GSA highlighted the continuing importance of HSPA and HSPA+ for mobile voice and broadband service delivery. 547 operators have commercially launched HSPA networks and more than two thirds of them support HSPA+. Deployment of 42 Mbps DC-HSPA+ technology continues as a major trend for even better user experience. 159 DC-HSPA+ networks (29% of HSPA networks) have commercially launched in 83 countries.

Most operators have deployed both LTE and HSPA technologies in their networks. Over 70% of LTE user devices can also operate on HSPA networks, and 99% of LTE smartphones are multimode, capable of operating on 3G networks such as HSPA, EV-DO or TD-SCDMA. A third of LTE smartphones can operate on 42 Mbps DC-HSPA+ networks.

Alan Hadden, President of GSA, said: "This shows how it is key for operators to ensure consistent user experiences for data and voice with broad coverage, wherever users need it."

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