GSA: VoLTE launches reach 16 as operators embrace HD voice benefits

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and LTE Advanced (LTE-A) are among the hottest mobile network trends right now for operators, and deployments are rising across the globe.

According to the latest update from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) on LTE, mobile operators are increasingly embracing the benefits brought by VoLTE such as HD voice, which they can exploit as a way to further differentiate their services.

Alan Hadden, VP of research at the GSA, said: "Interest in VoLTE has surged and over twice as many operators are investing in VoLTE compared to a year ago. Sixteen operators have launched HD voice service enabled by VoLTE in seven countries, compared to only three launched in March 2014. Many more launches will happen in 2015."

Meanwhile LTE-A deployments are continuing apace, with 116 operators--equivalent to around 30 per cent--investing in carrier aggregation technology. The GSA noted that 64 operators have commercially launched LTE-A services in 39 countries. The total number of LTE launches now stands at 393 in 138 countries, prompting the GSA to raise its year-end forecast to 460 commercially launched LTE networks in 2015.

In terms of spectrum, the most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3). Some 176 LTE1800 networks--almost 50 per cent higher than a year ago--have been commercially launched in 86 countries. The 1800 MHz band is used in 45 per cent of LTE network deployments. In addition, 43 per cent of LTE user terminals are able to operate in the 1800 MHz band. The next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is  2.6 GHz (band 7), which is used in almost 25 per cent of networks.

In sub-1 GHz spectrum, the 800 MHz band (band 20) is by far the most popular choice for LTE with one in five operators globally currently using this spectrum.

The GSA also highlighted the increased usage of the 700 MHz band (band 28) for LTE: 10 operators have commercially launched LTE using this spectrum. Indeed, the Asia Pacific Telecommunity 700 MHz or APT700 band plan is hailed as a key coverage band for LTE with near-global market potential.

To date, 42 countries have allocated, committed to or recommended APT700 band 28 spectrum f or LTE deployments, in markets approaching 4 billion people, the GSA said. In addition, 76 APT700 user devices including smartphones, tablets, CPEs and MiFi hotspots have been announced.

For more:
- see this GSA release

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