64 operators have commercially launched LTE-Advanced systems in 39 countries, according to a new information paper released by GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association.
LTE-Advanced deployment is a major industry trend, it said. 116 operators, i.e. around 30% of LTE operators are investing in carrier aggregation technology worldwide and are at various stages of deployment.
Carrier aggregation is the first LTE-Advanced feature to be commercialised and facilitates higher data throughput rates, the most efficient use of spectrum assets for network operators. Currently approaching 1 in 6 LTE operators have commercially launched LTE-Advanced service.
Most LTE-Advanced system deployments support Category 6 user devices, which 3GPP defines as covering the range above 150 Mbps up to 300 Mbps downlink data throughput, and 50 Mbps on the uplink.
There are 52 commercially launched Category 6 systems and 30 of these systems support the maximum 300 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speed, operating in 20 countries including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Jersey, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UAE, and the UK.
In Malaysia, Maxis, Celcom Axiata, DiGi and U Mobile all runs a Category 4 4G LTE network.
Commercially launched LTE-Advanced systems:
- 11 Category 4 (up to 150 Mbps peak theoretical downlink data throughput)
- 52 Category 6 (above 150 Mbps up to 300 Mbps peak theoretical downlink data throughput)
- 1 (category to be confirmed)
- TOTAL = 64 LTE-Advanced systems
The LTE-Advanced devices ecosystem is rapidly maturing. In another report released this week (Status of the LTE Ecosystem report), GSA confirmed that 858 devices (almost 30% of all LTE devices) were announced supporting Category 4 and 69 devices (comprising small cells, routers, MiFis, smartphones and tablets) support Category 6.
Thirteen (13) Category 9 systems are in deployment, trial or test phase in Angola, Australia, Finland, Japan, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and the UK. 3GPP defines a Category 9 system as part of Release 11, and is capable of a theoretical peak downlink speed up to 450 Mbps.
The full list of countries and the Telcos/operators with LTE-Advanced network can be downloaded here [PDF].
Alan Hadden, VP of Research, GSA, said: “Over 80% of commercial LTE Advanced systems support Category 6 devices. A further 38 Category 6 LTE-Advanced systems are in deployment, trial or test phase. It means a total of 90 Category 6 systems are commercially launched, in deployment, trial phase or being tested, representing almost a quarter of all commercially launched LTE networks.”
Last month, GSA confirmed that 393 operators have commercially launched LTE systems in 138 countries, according to data in its latest Evolution to LTE report. 107 operators commercially launched LTE service in the past year. GSA forecasts there will be 460 commercially launched LTE networks by end 2015.