Some 96 LTE networks were launched in 27 countries in 2014, taking the total number of commercial LTE networks to 360 in 124 countries by the end of the year according to latest figures released by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).
The GSA said a total of 611 operators are now 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 eight countries," the association added.
In terms of further network evolution, LTE Advanced (LTE-A)carrier aggregation deployment was the major trend in 2014: 49 operators have now commercially launched LTE-A in 31 countries. The GSA calculates that almost 30 per cent of LTE operators are currently investing in LTE-A technology.
Furthermore, 80 operators in 42 countries--more than 22 per cent of operators--are investing in voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) deployments, studies or trials, with 14 operators having launched HD voice service using VoLTE in seven countries.
The most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3), with 158 LTE 1800 networks commercially launched in 76 countries.
This means 1800 MHz is used in almost 44 per cent of LTE network deployments and also has the largest user devices ecosystem, the GSA added. More than 42 per cent of LTE user terminals can operate in the 1800 MHz band.
The GSA noted that the next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is 2.6 GHz (band 7), which is used in over 25 per cent of networks. Meanwhile 800 MHz (band 20) is by far the most popular sub-1 GHz coverage choice for LTE, and continued to gain share with almost one in five 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. Some 48 operators, which the GSA said equates to more than one in eight LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode.
Citing figures from Ovum, the GSA further noted that LTE subscriptions reached 373 million globally in the third quarter of 2014.
- see this GSA release
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