LTE-A Now Live on More Than 20 Networks

There are now more than 20 networks with LTE-Advanced live around the globe, and that number could double by the end of 2015.

Chris Pearson, the president of the 4G Americas trade group, told Light Reading recently that he expects the number of live LTE-A networks to at least double by the end of the year. The early deployments are in North America, parts of Asia and North America.

The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) , meanwhile, said this week that 79 operators have launched or are deploying or trialing LTE-Advanced technologies in their networks. It says there are 21 networks worldwide with LTE-Advanced features switched on now.

Clearly, 2015 will be a year of growth for LTE-A networks and services around the world. As 4G Americas' Pearson says, 4G LTE still has "a lot of road," with LTE-Advanced and other updates such as VoLTE now starting to go live.

Get the latest updates on 4G/LTE by visiting Light Reading's dedicated 4G/LTE channel.

Phased approach
LTE-Advanced was "baked" by the 3GPP in April 2011 as Release 10 of the Long Term Evolution (LTE) specification. LTE-Advanced was originally considered the first true fourth-generation (4G) technology by the ITU because -- in theory anyway -- it met the conditions of maximum downlink speeds of 100Mbit/s when a user is on the move and up to 1Gbit/s for stationary downloads, but the organization later slackened its 4G definition. (See Why You Should Care About LTE-Advanced (Eventually).)

Features include:

  • Carrier aggregation techniques that bond two or more separate radio channels for more speed and capacity.
  • Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) antenna arrays of 2x2 or more on the devices and infrastructure for faster uplink and downlinks.
  • Support for "hetnets," which give operators ways to combine multiple access methods, including WiFi and 3G, at the RAN and the core network.
  • Relay nodes, low-power radios that will provide improved coverage and capacity at the cell edge of the network.

Operators have typically started the roll to LTE-Advanced with support for carrier aggregation, which allows them to add speed and capacity by combining different spectrum bands.

In the US, the other LTE-A features are mainly in testing now, although that will start to change in 2015. (See AT&T: LTE-A Devices Go Mainstream in 2015 and LTE-Advanced: Carrier Aggregation.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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