Driven by the rapidly growing demand from their customers for data services, mobile operators worldwide are accelerating the deployment of LTE. According the latest figures from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) there are now 101 LTE deployments in progress or planned in 41 countries, a total that is 71 per cent higher than the figures the GSA reported six months ago. Three LTE networks--in Sweden, Norway and Uzbekistan--have already launched commercial services using the new technology.
The GSA anticipates up to 22 LTE networks will be in commercial service by the end of 2010. Another 31 operators are engaged in various LTE pilot trials and technology tests. In total 132 operators are now investing in LTE in 56 countries. Governments and regulators are supporting these deployments by allocating, or preparing to release, new spectrum bands such as 2.6GHz, by issuing licences for the digital dividend spectrum at 700/800MHz and by refarming existing spectrum at 900MHz and 1800MHz.
Several trial licences have also been issued in order that operators can familiarise themselves with the new technology. A number of tenders for spectrum licenses have been announced or confirmed in recent weeks for the granting of spectrum suitable for LTE deployments, including in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Poland, and the UK. Several auctions are scheduled for completion in the next few months. Although the majority of planned LTE deployments are utilising the FDD mode there is growing interest in the TDD mode which was exemplified by the recent BWA spectrum auction in India which has paved the way for the early and large scale deployment of TDD LTE in this important market.
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