As of April 9 (2015), 393 operators have commercially launched 4G LTE service in 138 countries, according to data released by GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) in the latest update of the Evolution to LTE report. There were 497 million 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) subscriptions worldwide as of 2014.
GSA raised its year-end forecast to 460 commercially launched 4G LTE networks. In the past year alone, some 107 operators have commercially launched LTE service.
644 operators are investing in LTE across 181 countries. This comprises 607 firm network deployment commitments in 176 countries (of which 393 networks have launched), and 39 pre-commitments trials in a further 5 countries, GSA said.
LTE-Advanced deployment continues as a major trend with 116 operators, i.e. around 30% of the mobile operators are investing in carrier aggregation technology. Network capacity, efficiencies and peak speeds are also rising dramatically. 64 operators, almost 1 in 6, have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service in 39 countries. A Category 6 LTE system generally have a theoretical peak downlink (download) speed capability of 300 Mbps, and 50 Mbps on the uplink (upload speed).
The most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz (3GPP band 3). 176 LTE1800 networks, almost 50% higher than a year ago, are commercially launched in 86 countries. 1800 MHz is used today in 45% of LTE network deployments and continues to dominate the user devices ecosystem. Over 43% of LTE user terminals can operate in the 1800 MHz band. The next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is 2.6 GHz (band 7) and is used in almost 25% of networks.
800 MHz (band 20) is by far the most popular sub 1 GHz coverage band choice for LTE with over 1 in 5 operators globally currently using this spectrum.
While most operators deployed LTE networks in paired spectrum using the FDD mode, the LTE TDD mode (TD-LTE) for operators with unpaired spectrum continues to develop in all regions, and particularly in China. 54 operators, more than 1 in 8 of all LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode in 34 countries. Band 40 (2.3 GHz) is the most widely deployed spectrum. 16 operators have deployed both FDD and TDD modes in their networks. GSA said that converged LTE networks with both FDD and TDD modes deployed is a growing priority for many operators.
10 operators have commercially launched LTE using APT700 (700 MHz) band 28 spectrum. 42 countries have allocated, committed to or recommend APT700 band 28 spectrum for LTE deployments, in markets approaching 4 billion people. Some 76 APT700 (band 28) user devices comprising smartphones, tablets, CPEs and MiFi hotspots have been announced.
There were some 2,646 4G LTE-enabled user devices in the market as of 2014.
In terms of Voice over LTE (VoLTE), 16 operators have launched HD voice service in 7 countries. Many more launches will happen in 2015 said Alan Hadden, VP of Research, GSA.
[Download PDF]– GSA Evolution to LTE report (April 9, 2015)