LTE deployments continue throughout the globe. According to GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association), last year alone, 360 mobile operators have commercially launched their LTE service, covering 124 countries. Of the 360 deployments, FDD-only networks made up 312, TDD-only networks made up 31 while FDD-TDD combined networks saw 17 deployments. At the same time, 49 Operators commercially launched their LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) carrier aggregation across 31 countries, said GSA, forecasting the number to double this year.
LTE opened up the long awaited opportunity for mobile operators to leverage mobile data to transmit high quality voice. The Voice over LTE (VoLTE) saw 80 operators from 42 countries embarking on VoLTE deployments, studies or trials, with 14 operators in 7 countries taking the giant leap to commercially roll out their VoLTE HD voice service commercially. As latest smartphones now feature VoLTE support, Operators are leveraging LTE to start raking in revenues previously lost to OTT Voice Applications. Native calling capability featured on VoLTE, inter-carrier connectivity and the ability to use their existing phone numbers to make calls are some of the push factors to kick-start the transition of calls from traditional voice and also OTT voice apps to VoLTE.
Across the global LTE deployments, GSA's data showed that the most widely used spectrum for LTE network deployments continues to be the1800 MHz (3GPP band 3) with 158 networks commercially launched todate in 76 countries. This represents 44% of LTE network deployments and also has the largest user devices ecosystem with over 42%. The next most popular contiguous band for LTE deployments is 2.6 GHz (band 7) and is used in over 25% of networks.
While most operators deployed LTE networks in paired spectrum using the FDD mode, the LTE TDD mode (TD-LTE) for operators with unpaired spectrum had another year of growth in all regions, especially in China. 48 operators, which equates to more than 1 in 8 LTE operators, have commercially launched LTE service using the TDD mode.