Commercial LTE network deployments hit 244: GSA

Some 244 operators in 92 countries have now launched commercial 4G services based on the LTE standard, according to the latest research update from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

The technology appears to have gathered real momentum this year, which has seen a total of 93 networks launched commercially, according to the GSA.

The organization, which represents the interests of mobile suppliers globally, expects another 16 networks to be commercially deployed by the end of the year.

However, it also notes that some 448 operators in 134 countries are now investing in LTE technology, while another 51 operators in nine countries are engaged in LTE trials.

According to the GSA, most LTE operators have rolled out the so-called FDD mode of the standard, which uses paired frequencies to support connections, while 1800MHz spectrum remains the most widely used band, having been deployed in more than 44% of commercially launched LTE networks.

Operators have traditionally used 1800MHz to support ordinary voice and messaging services but have been ‘refarming’ the frequencies for use with LTE.

The GSA regards 1800MHz as a prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, saying its refarming will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband.

The next most popular LTE band is 2.6GHz, according to the GSA research, used in 29% of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800MHz (12%) and AWS (8%).

Despite the FDD lead, interest in TDD-based LTE is growing in advance of large-scale commercial deployments in China, where 4G permits were recently issued to the country’s mobile operators.

Globally, some 25 TDD-based LTE networks in 20 countries are now in commercial operation.

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