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156 commercial LTE networks operational worldwide

The Global mobile Suppliers Association has confirmed that 357 operators have made LTE deployment commitments in 113 countries, of which 156 operators have launched commercial services in 67 countries. A further 55 operators are engaged in trials and studies in 12 additional countries.

Alan Hadden, President of the GSA, said: ‚”Almost 100 operators commercially launched LTE services over the past year, and in doing so more than doubled the number of countries where services are available. LTE is mainstream and the right technology choice for all economies and regions of the world.‚”

The importance of band 3 (1800 MHz) as the prime band for LTE network deployments continues to grow. Over 44% of commercial LTE networks utilize 1800 MHz compared to 37% of networks only four months ago. LTE1800 is deployed in 69 commercial networks in 43 countries. With a strong supporting ecosystem already established including several smartphones, 1800 MHz is likely to remain the prime band for LTE in the foreseeable future, and a key enabler for international roaming,

The second most popular band used in commercially launched LTE networks is band 7 (2.6 GHz) followed by band 20 (800 MHz), then band 4 (AWS).

The report also highlights the importance of 700 MHz digital dividend spectrum as a potential global band for LTE. Adoption of the APT700 MHz band plan by a growing number of countries across the APAC and Latin America regions confirms a strong momentum and represents a major opportunity for global spectrum harmonization for LTE systems, paving the way for ensuring the greatest economies of scale for devices and capacity for mobile broadband, and for roaming. Within the APT700 band plan (698-806 MHz) the FDD configuration (band 28) has attracted the most support. GSA and the GSM Association co-hosted an industry roundtable during the Mobile World Congress to share views and discuss the state of the ecosystem for the APT700 band plan, and to consider what needs to be done to progress use of this band. Information about how to obtain the presentations at the roundtable is included in the Evolution to LTE report.

The TDD mode of the LTE standard continues to develop across the world with 14 operators now having launched commercial services using LTE TDD. The FDD and TDD modes of the LTE system are fully complementary. Most LTE TDD networks are deployed in band 38 (2.6 GHz) and band 40 (2.3 GHz) where the devices ecosystems are currently the largest. A recent meeting of the 3.5 GHz industry interest group (during the Mobile World Congress), in which GSA participated, highlighted the availability and importance of this spectrum for future LTE TDD deployments.

The Evolution to LTE report (March 19, 2013) was researched and published by GSA and provides a concise update of the business drivers, objectives and targets for LTE Long Term Evolution and the evolved packet system, including network operator commitments, deployments, launches, trials, the growing eco- system including device availability, spectrum requirements and developments, Voice over LTE developments, standardization activities including LTE-Advanced, and more. The report is available as a free download to registered site users via the link on the GSA home page

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