As LTE becomes a global phenomenon, it is seeing tremendous growth in EMEA. [Some] 60% of [global] commercial LTE networks are located in EMEA, with 115 service providers launching services across 53 nations.
LTE networks deployed in Europe represent 44% of the global total. While the majority are based on single band spectrum deployments, 31% involve multi-band combinations. This is particularly the case in Western Europe where over 50% of 4G LTE networks in the region are using spectrum in more than one band.
Multi-band deployments are also on the increase in Eastern Europe. LTE networks in both the Middle East and Africa largely remain single band, with 1800-MHz spectrum used in 70% of deployments in these two regions.
The multiband implementations positively impact infrastructure subsystem providers that have been developing wideband and multiband amplifier and antenna technology, such as Commscope, RFS, and Comba. It also benefits other companies like Qualcomm, whose RF360 solution is specifically targeted towards multi-band solutions.
The dominant LTE deployment band across EMEA is 1800-MHz spectrum, closely followed by networks using 2600-MHz spectrum, as shown in figure 1, below. The exhibit represents the use of different spectrum bands for LTE across EMEA either in single band use or as part of multi-band spectrum combinations. With 1800MHz, being widely available, it moderates demand for 2600MHz spectrum, particularly as it is re-farmed from legacy GSM networks.
Figure 1: Radio spectrum bands used for LTE deployments in EMEA
Source: Tolaga Research LTE Market Monitor, Tolaga Research Radio Spectrum Intelligence, 2013
[Some] 69% of EMEA’s commercial LTE networks are based on single band deployments. Networks using 1800-MHz spectrum represent 40% of all deployments across EMEA, followed by 20% using 2600-MHz spectrum resources, and 7% using 800-MHz spectrum on a standalone basis.
Networks using spectrum across two spectrum bands represent 21% of EMEA’s LTE deployments dominated by combinations of either 800-MHz and 2600-MHz, or 1800-MHz and 2600-MHz.
EMEA LTE networks using spectrum across three bands represent 10% with the dominant combination being that of 800-MHz, 1800-MHz and 2600-MHz; [while] 12% of LTE networks are using unpaired TDD spectrum, most commonly in combination with paired FDD spectrum resources.
We believe that TDD will see increased interest as China and India continues to drive demand for TDD devices and infrastructure.
Multi-band LTE deployments across EMEA will progressively become more commonplace as service providers augment existing networks with new spectrum resources and as multi-band radio technology innovations gather pace. This trend is also driven by the ongoing allocation of new spectrum for 4G services, notably in the 800-MHz and 2600-MHz ranges across nations in Europe.
As LTE proliferates, service providers, vendors and regulators alike must pay careful attention to the spectrum bands and band combinations that are used. Individual bands can no longer be treated in isolation.
Dianne Northfield is vice president of research at Tolaga Research. For more information, visit. www.tolaga.com