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Posted by on in 4G LTE
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4G LTE Subscriptions Surge 135%, Now Over 245 Million

4G LTE wireless broadband network access is now available in 31 more countries than it was a year ago – a 40 percent year-over-year increase, according to the GSA (Global Mobile Suppliers Association). Thirty-five commercial LTE networks have been launched year to date, GSA adds, bringing the overall total to 300 operators in 107 countries. GSA expects there will be more than 350 by the end of the year.

An examination of 4G LTE spectrum use by GSA revealed that 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3) continued to be the most widely used, with 129 LTE networks in 67 countries making use of it either as a single- or multi-band deployment. The 2.6 GHz (band 7) rated second, in use among 25.6 percent of commercial LTE networks in use, followed by 800 MHz (band 20), in use among 14.3 percent of networks. AWS (band 4) ranked fourth, used in 8.3 percent.

Turning to LTE network configuration, GSA's "Evolution to LTE" report reveals that single mode FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) is used in 264 operator deployments. Thirteen operators have launched commercial LTE networks in dual FDD and TDD (Time Division Duplex) mode.

Twenty-three LTE network operators are running their broadband wireless networks in TDD mode only. All told, 36 commercial LTE networks in 25 countries – 1 in 8 – are making use of TD-LTE.

LTE subscriptions are growing rapidly with the increased availability of LTE network access. As of March 31 there were 245.4 million LTE subscriptions worldwide, a year-over-year increase of 135 percent. Forty million were added in 1Q, according to data from Informa Telecoms and Media.

Other key takeaways of GSA's latest report include:

  • LTE networks capable of supporting 150 Mbps peak downlink (for Category 4 user devices) are commercially launched in at least 33 countries;
  • At least 20% of operators are investing in deploying LTE-Advanced technologies, which in the first phase is carrier aggregation. Support for 300 Mbps Category 6 user devices is commercial reality on several networks;
  • Increased focus on handling voice on LTE networks. 62 operators are investing in VoLTE studies, trials or deployments, including 8 operators in Asia and North America who have commercially launched HD voice service using VoLTE;
  • There is growing interest in LTE Broadcast enabled by eMBMS technology to efficiently deliver multimedia content one-to-many. Many trials have been completed at major sporting events and the first commercial LTE Broadcast service has launched.

Ginny Gardea oversees strategic marketing, PR and product positioning efforts for NetAmerica.  She has over a decade of experience in the communications industry with specific interests in the rural market.