LTE will make its debut US appearance with Verizon Wireless on December 6, 2010. TD-LTE will launch in China next year, and more LTE network trials and deployments are following in quick succession elsewhere.
“The area covered by 4G networks is expanding quickly, especially in the US, with reasonable adoption among subscribers. There is also a possibility that some developing markets in Africa and Asia may bypass 3G technology altogether and opt for 4G network coverage,” comments ABI Research director Philip Solis. “At the end of 2010, mobile WiMAX will cover about 8% of the world’s population, while LTE will cover about 2%.”
TD-LTE is garnering considerable international interest. In addition to China Mobile’s efforts, trials are being conducted by Reliance Industries (previously thought to be leaning towards WiMAX) in India; ST-Ericsson is building TD-LTE modems; and Softbank has acquired Wilcom’s 2.5 GHz spectrum in Japan.
“While in the near term most 4G spectrum is expected to be in the 2.5 and 3.5 GHz ranges, Mobyland in Poland has just launched the world’s first LTE network in the 1.8 GHz range, showing that a re-farming of spectrum can improve efficiency,” notes research associate Fei Feng Seet.
Currently, WiMAX has a much larger geographical footprint, but the number of LTE announcements in the past quarter show the technology gathering momentum. Such roll-outs of new technology are typically slow due to lack of funding, equipment and handset devices; consumer take-up rate is also slow due to the more expensive price plans. However mobile operators deploying LTE are doing so with existing subscriber bases and towers that will allow them to implement LTE much more rapidly than WiMAX has been deployed.
ABI Research’s “4G City-by-City Google Earth Map” (http://www.abiresearch.com/research/1004967) presents an interactive map of 4G network deployments across the globe. Currently the majority are WiMAX, but LTE and TD-LTE deployments are being added to the map as they come onstream. Also included is a comprehensive source of information of all 4G network providers, their operating spectra, access technologies, and key network vendors globally.