On Tuesday, a new study by Informa Telecoms & Media (London, England), a telecom research firm, revealed the degree to which spectrum policy and availability is causing the market for LTE to become regionally fragmented. The emergence of distinct regional and national bands and band combinations will pose difficult choices for equipment and device vendors in terms of which bands they choose to support, according to Informa.
“Given the design and integration constraints associated with providing multiband support for LTE, device vendors and chipset providers in particular will want to consider the size of the global addressable market for each band, as well as regional band adoption patterns and band pairings, before configuring their products to support specific band combinations,” said Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
In the lower-spectrum range, the 700MHz band, which is proving popular in the U.S., will only be adopted by a handful of operators outside the Americas, whereas the 800MHz digital dividend band will be widely used in Western and Eastern Europe, according to Informa’s research. The 900MHz band, which is being used in early deployments in Sweden, will extend to only a small number of regionally diverse markets by 2016, although likely adopters include KDDI and NTT DoCoMo, says the research firm.
At the higher end, according to Informa, the 2600MHz FDD band will be widely adopted in Western and Eastern Europe and will see some take up in the North and Latin American markets, but will be employed in only a few of Asia Pacific’s markets. The 2300MHz TDD band will dominate in China, while in Japan, deployments above 2100MHz will be limited to Softbank’s expected adoption of the 2600MHz TDD band.
Even within similar band ranges, regional differences will have implications for product planners, says the research firm. The paired 1700/2100 AWS spectrum (3GPP Band IV) extensively used in North America, will see no uptake outside the Americas, although the 2100MHz UMTS expansion band favored by NTT DoCoMo is also likely to be adopted in some markets in Latin America and Africa, as well as in India and Pakistan, according to the report.
Other bands will see little or no take-up outside a single country. The 1900MHz band is most likely to be confined to the U.S. and Argentina, while Japan’s 1500MHz band will be limited to that market alone, the firm goes on to say.
Popular LTE band combinations by region:
- North America: 700+2100
- Latin America: 700+2100; 700+2600
- Asia Pacific: 700+1800; 700+2100; 800+1800; 1800+2600; 2300+2600
- Western Europe: 800+2600; 800+1800+2600
- Eastern Europe: 800+2600; 1800+2600
- Africa: 2100+2600