The first LTE-Advanced devices that take advantage of carrier aggregation will begin hitting the market late this year and will go mainstream in 2015, according to AT&T's chief strategy officer.
The devices will start to trickle out as operators begin concatenating non-contiguous spectrum bands, but it won't be a wholesale change, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) Group President and CSO John Stankey explained Wednesday at the Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. conference. (See AT&T's Strategy Boss Puts Content First.)
The timing of launches depends on how aggressive carriers plan to be on moving to the newer antenna technology that allows for disparate frequency bands to be banded together. Stankey doesn't expect that to happen just for the sake of launching LTE-Advanced. (See Integrated Components Accelerate LTE and Uncovering More of the LTE-A Smorgasbord.)
"I expect antenna technology moves to be a little more deliberate, probably more geared towards antenna replacement or trigger replacement if you have to add a new radio band or if something wears out if it's weathered and old," he said. "You'll see devices into mainstream late this year and starting to really take off next year."
When this happens, he said it's entirely possible consumers will see peak rates double that which they get today. (See The Case for LTE-Advanced and Why You Should Care About LTE-Advanced (Eventually).)
Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US Inc. both support carrier aggregation, albeit not full LTE-Advanced, in some handsets. Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has said its first 3x carrier aggregation-capable LTE-Advanced handsets will launch in the first half of 2015 ahead of its network. (See Sprint Seeds Market with LTE-A Handsets and Qualcomm Unveils New LTE-Advanced Chips.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading