As of January 2013, 145 commercial networks across 66 countries currently offer LTE services to mobile users – and according to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), this is forecast to grow to 234 networks in 83 countries by the end of the year.
In its LTE Market Summary for January 8, 2013 the organization noted further that hundreds of operators across the globe have committed to investing in LTE technology within 114 different countries.
“LTE is the fastest-growing mobile system technology,” the GSA said. “LTE technology is now mainstream.”
According to the GSA, there are 43.7 million LTE subscriptions as of Q3 2012, globally.
Professional services firm, Deloitte, predicts that LTE subscriber numbers are likely to triple, reaching around 200 million, globally, by year end.
In South Africa, all major operators have launched, or are in the process of launching LTE in the country.
Where in the world can you find LTE?
The LTE offerings from Vodacom and MTN in South Africa are currently available through refarmed spectrum in the 1800MHz band, while Cell C is trialling LTE in the 2100MHz band and 8ta in the 2300MHz band.
According to the GSA’s data, the 1800MHz band is the most widely used for 4G/LTE systems deployments, globally, with LTE1800 deployed in over 40% of commercial LTE networks.
153 consumer devices – including 41 smartphones – from leading brands employ LTE1800 technology, the GSA noted.
South African operators are currently awaiting the release of the 800MHz and 700MHz (Digital Dividend 1 and 2, respectively) spectrum bands for use on the LTE networks, which will become available after the digital TV migration.