Analysts are expecting next year to be the year when LTE makes a big debut. Most notably, heavyweights Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) in the United States and NTT DoCoMo in Japan plan to turn on commercial service by the end of 2010.
According to ABI Research, 132 networks are in LTE trials or will see a commercial launch in the near future. That number is 32 more than at the end of 2009.
Ericsson Chief Financial Officer Jan Frykhammer told FierceBroadbandWireless that the world's largest infrastructure vendors saw a significant jump in LTE trials during the second quarter, but whether the trials translate into commercial contracts remains to be seen.
"Operators are now looking at the technology and trying to understand its advantages," he said. "Whether trials lead to contracts now or later is difficult to say."
For many operators, LTE deployments are contingent on getting access to suitable spectrum. Countries such as Finland, Denmark and Germany have now awarded spectrum for LTE, but other regions, such as Latin America, have not released spectrum.
In addition, operators in Europe will be able to refarm their existing GSM spectrum for LTE deployments, which might mean upgrades to equipment capable of supporting GSM, HSPA and LTE, but not necessarily an LTE deployment in the near term. The same could be true for some operators in the U.S., such as Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which has indicated it is studying its next-generation options for its 1900 MHz CDMA network.
The map below is not meant to be an exhaustive list of LTE commitments and trials around the world, but rather a reference to indicate where the technology is heating up.
View Mapping it out: Operator commitments to LTE 2010 in a larger map
|AT&T||Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson||Deployment scheduled for 2011|
|LightSquared||Nokia Siemens Networks||Deployment scheduled for second half 2011|
|MetroPCS||Ericsson||Major metro markets planned for year-end 2010|
|Shaw Communications||Nokia Siemens Networks||Deployment scheduled for late 2011 in Canada|
|Verizon Wireless||Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson||25-30 markets commercially launched by year-end 2010|
|Cosmote (Greece)||N/A||Pilot network launched this year|
|Net4Mobility||Huawei||100 cities in Sweden by year-end 2011|
|TDC (Denmark)||N/A||Commercial plans for 2010|
|Telekom Austria||Huawei||Running LTE pilot network|
|Telenor Denmark||Nokia Siemens Networks||N/A|
|TeliaSonera||Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Huawei||Offering commercial services in Oslo, Norway; Stockholm, Sweden. Expanding coverage to 29 markets in Norway and Sweden|
|VivaCell-MTS||N/A||Commercial service planned in Armenia in 2010|
|Vodafone Germany||Ericsson, Huawei||Deployments targeted at rural areas by 2011|
|MegaFon (Russia)||N/A||LTE tests beginning this year|
|Rostelecom (Russia)||N/A||Commercial availability in existing licenses by mid-2011|
|Yota (Russia)||N/A||Five networks going live by year-end 2010|
|China Mobile||N/A||Completed testing of TD-LTE with plans for trials networks in three cities|
|Chunghwa Telecom||Ericsson||Completed Taiwan's first field trials|
|CSL Hong Kong||ZTE||N/A|
|KDDI||Motorola, NEC||Commercial network in 2012|
|NTT DoCoMo||Nokia Siemens Networks, Fujitsu, Panasonic||Commercial launch scheduled for year-end 2010|
|SingTel||NEC||Trials slated for Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines|
|SK Telecom||N/A||Commercial deployment in Seoul by 2011|
|Telstra||Huawei||Conducting live trials in Australia|
|Etisalat||Huawei||Completed field and lab testing|
|Omantel||N/A||Contract for TD-LTE|
|Zain Bahrain||Nokia Siemens Networks||N/A|
|Zain Saudi Arabia||Motorola||N/A|
|Vodacom||N/A||Africa's first live LTE trial|
|Entel PCS||N/A||Engaged in trials with Rubberduck Media Lab in Chile for high speed mobile TV over LTE tests.|
|Vivo (Brazil)||N/A||Pilot test planned for 2010|