Snapshot: LTE Devices Accelerating, 20 Networks Now Running Commercial LTE-Advanced
The number of 4G LTE handsets is set to explode in the coming year, with growth of more than 43 percent from 2014. Meanwhile, according to a new report, telecommunications networks in 14 countries are now commercially operating high-speed LTE-Advanced.
According to the report, from market research firm ABI Research, "676 million 4G LTE handsets will be shipped in 2015, growing 204 million units from 2014."
4G LTE-Advanced represents significant progress in data speeds for end users. Current limited deployments peak between 200 Mbps and 300 Mbps, but gigabit speeds are theoretically possible with LTE-Advanced. Trials of new methods of increasing bandwidth using carrier aggregation across disparate duplexing schemes (TDD and FDD) are currently underway. Through aggregation, individual devices can use bandwidth from multiple, non-contiguous portions of the spectrum, which, for the end user, ultimately translates to faster data speeds. (See this article for a good explanation of FDD/TDD carrier aggregation.)
"... LTE-Advanced is now commercial on 20 networks in 14 countries," according to ABI. (Other sources offer slightly different statistics, with up to 31 networks operating LTE-Advanced commercially in 22 countries.) "To cope with the demand for higher data rates, FDD/TDD LTE carrier aggregation trials are starting to take place. For example, Ericsson, SingTel, and Qualcomm demonstrated a downlink speed of 260 Mbps in their trial. The first ever TDD-FDD LTE trial took place in February 2014 between Korea Telecom and SK Telecom, with assistance from Nokia Networks. The growing demand for data also emphasizes the need for additional bandwidth to support the massive strain on operator networks which can be alleviated through the refarming of unused spectrum."
However, according to ABI's Jake Saunders, vice president and practice director for 4G/5G, "While commercial devices supporting FDD/TDD carrier aggregation will only debut in 2015, this has not deterred global operators like Vodafone from rolling out LTE-Advanced technology using carrier aggregation to supplement its existing LTE mobile services."
According to ABI, worldwide shipments of "LTE-connected devices" will reach more than 1.89 billion units by the end of 2019.
The report was part of ABI's LTE & 5G Market Research.