The early momentum behind LTE-Advanced may lead to fairly rapid deployment – ABI Research expects nearly 600,000 LTE base stations to be upgraded to LTE-A by 2018.
Upgrades of LTE base stations to LTE-A will increase at a CAGR of around 200% between 2012 and 2018, the research firm predicts.
LTE-A and carrier aggregation provides part of the answer to increasing network capacity to support soaring data consumption.
“Operators are keenly reaching out to secure whatever spectrum they can get. As a result, they are ending up with a variety of different frequency bands. This is where carrier aggregation technology becomes useful,” ABI Research VP and practice director Jake Saunders said.
SK Telecom, which launched LTE-A services on June 26, this week revealed it had signed up 300,000 LTE-A subscribers in a month. Rival LG Uplus launched LTE-A on July 18.
ABI points out that at least four LTE-A networks will be in service in the US by the end of the year. The firm expects more than half of US LTE subscribers in North America to be using LTE-A by 2017.
But as mobile customers in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa are served by fewer LTE networks, there may be less incentive for operators in the region to advance to LTE-A.