LTE: Fastest-developing system in history of telecoms?

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), which tracks mobile industry technology trends, claims that LTE is the fastest-developing system in the history of telecommunications.

More than 180 operators in 70 countries are now investing in LTE, and there are now 17 commercial LTE networks. However, such impressive figures mask the fact that most operators will almost certainly stick with tests or small scale 'hotzone' roll-outs for several years. In fact, a number of operators are sceptical of the 'first mover advantage' claimed by early adopters such as Verizon and TeliaSonera, claiming that these deployments will yield a great deal of positive publicity rather than real commercial results, certainly in the first year or so.

Two major operators have, in fact, announced that they will not be rushing into LTE. T-Mobile, both in the United States and Europe, is happy to continue to improve its current 3G/HSPA platform until it can gain the optimum pricing and spectrum position on LTE. And in Japan, KDDI announced this week that it will not be deploying LTE until at least 2012 despite its rival NTT DoCoMo having already launched LTE service.

Despite this scepticism, the GSA has some very positive messages on LTE. The number of operators investing in LTE in deployments or trials has increased by more than 140 per cent over the past 12 months, and the number of countries where LTE systems are deployed or planned has increased by 85 per cent in the same period. The report covers both FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE modes. The report also said that at least 64 LTE networks are anticipated to be in commercial service by the end of 2012. LTE operator commitments are developing faster than they did for HSPA, which until now had been the fastest-developing mobile communications system.

For more:
- see this Silicon Republic article
- see this Telecomseurope article

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NTT DoCoMo lights up LTE in Japan
KDDI executive details LTE deployment plans