According to GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) latest report, around 360 operators have commercially launched LTE networks and service in 124 countries by end of 2014.
The most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3). 158 LTE1800 networks are commercially launched in 76 countries.
“1800 MHz is used in almost 44% of LTE network deployments and also has the largest user devices ecosystem. Over 42% of LTE user terminals can operate in the 1800 MHz band,” GSA mentioned in its latest update of the Evolution to LTE report
The next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is 2.6 GHz (band 7) and is used in over 25% of networks. 800 MHz (band 20) is by far the most popular sub 1 GHz coverage choice for LTE and continued to gain share with almost 1 in 5 operators globally deploying networks using this spectrum.
While most operators deployed LTE networks in paired spectrum using the FDD mode, the LTE TDD mode (TD-LTE) for operators with unpaired spectrum had another year of growth in all regions, especially in China. 48 operators, which equates to more than 1 in 8 LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode.
Deployments breakdown for 360 commercially deployed networks:
312 operators deployed FDD mode only
31 operators deployed TDD mode only
17 operators deployed both FDD and TDD modes
“LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation deployment was the major trend in 2014. 49 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,” said Alan Hadden, President of GSA.
According to 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. Further, 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,” the report said.
However, 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.
In addition, 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.