The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) hailed LTE-Advanced as a “mainstream” technology after revealing that 147 mobile operators have now launched LTE-Advanced or LTE-Advanced Pro networks in 69 countries.
The association added that a total of 521 operators have commercially launched LTE, LTE-A or LTE-A Pro networks in 170 countries, and expects to see the number reach 560 networks by the end of 2016. A total of 738 operators are investing in LTE across 194 countries.
As things stand, LTE-A Pro -- which also includes a new radio interface for narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) -- now accounts for nine of the networks that have so far been launched on a commercial basis.
Alan Hadden, VP of research at the GSA, also noted that 1-Gbps LTE services could be introduced before the end of 2016.
“Over 100 LTE-Advanced networks today are compatible with category 6 (151-300 Mbps downlink) smartphones and other user devices. The number of category 9 capable networks (301-450 Mbps) is significant and expanding. Category 11 systems (up to 600 Mbps) are commercially launched, leading the way to Gigabit service being introduced by year end,” Hadden said.
Operators in all regions are also ramping up the deployment of voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services. The GSA said 146 operators are investing in VoLTE deployments, trials or studies in 68 countries and 82 operators in 43 countries have so far launched commercial services. That compares with just 25 commercial VoLTE launches by July 2015.
The GSA expects to see more than 100 LTE operators offering VoLTE service by the end of 2016. In June 2016, GSA also revealed that that over 400 smartphones supporting VoLTE had been announced.
In terms of spectrum, the 1800 MHz band continues to be the most widely used band, representing more than 47 per cent of LTE network deployments. The next most popular band is 2.6 GHz, followed by the 800 MHz band. The GSA added that the 700 MHz band is also increasingly being used, with 25 operators now having commercially launched networks using this spectrum.
- see the GSA report
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