4G Americas, GSA tout rapid LTE expansion

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Separate research efforts from industry trade groups 4G Americas and the GSA confirm growing investments in LTE in North America and worldwide.

"In North America, the LTE market continued to race ahead in 4Q 2011, adding 2 million subscriptions to finish to finish the quarter with 5.3 million subscriptions, making it by far the leading region in the world for LTE with 71 percent of global LTE subscriptions," said 4G Americas, which said its numbers are based on data from Informa Telecoms & Media. The trade group also reported that HSPA mobile broadband technologies in North America surpassed 100 million connections by the end of 2011.

4G America said the Americas region, including Latin America, is expected to have more than 250 million mobile broadband subscriptions based on 3GPP technologies, those considered part of the GSM family, by year's end. The number of 3GPP mobile broadband subscriptions is projected to double by 2015 and reach 700 million by 2016.

In Latin America, nearly 50 percent of customers signing up for service based upon a 3GPP technology during 4Q11 got HSPA connections. "Latin America had more than 74 million HSPA connections included in the 604 million subscriptions to GSM-HSPA to reach an incredible 95 percent market share of all mobile connections in the region," said 4G Americas.

Of the 768 million 3GPP technology connections reported for the Americas region at the end of 2011, only one quarter of those were HSPA and LTE mobile broadband subscriptions.

The trade group also reported that Latin America has 72 commercial deployments of HSPA in 31 countries and 32 of those in 20 countries have been upgraded to HSPA+. There are five commercial LTE networks in Latin America, and 300,000 LTE connections are expected by the end of 2012. Meanwhile, there are eight commercial LTE networks in North America.

Meanwhile, the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) announced that 301 operators, 50 percent more than one year ago, are committed to commercial LTE network deployments or are engaged in trials, technology testing or studies. Breaking down the numbers, the GSA said 242 firm commercial LTE network deployments are either in deployment, commercially launched or planned in 81 countries, while 59 operators in 14 additional countries are engaged in LTE technology trials, tests or studies. The numbers, from the GSA's The Evolution to LTE report, cover both LTE FDD and LTE TDD system modes.

The GSA said 57 LTE operators have launched commercial services, which are now available in 32 countries: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Japan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, United States, and Uzbekistan.

However, 4G Americas' report cited 57 LTE networks in 34 countries. That group said Informa's research predicts there will be more than 100 total commercial networks with 22 million connections by year's end. Informa forecasts 156 million LTE connections at the end of 2014.

The GSA noted that 14 LTE 1800 MHz networks have been launched around the world, "justifying 1800 MHz as a prime band globally for LTE deployments." Further, five LTE TDD networks are commercially launched in Brazil, Japan, Poland and Saudi Arabia and numerous deployments and trials are underway or planned in other markets, said the association.

For more:
- see this GSM release
- see this 4G Americas release

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