Poll: LTE-Advanced Not Yet Having an Impact

LTE-Advanced has been making steady progress across the globe. More than 20 operators, including all of the big four in the US, have now deployed some aspect of the technology. Consumers, however, aren't yet feeling the benefit. (See LTE-A Now Live on More Than 20 Networks.)

According to a recent Light Reading poll of more than 1,000 readers, 75% have not noticed a difference from LTE-Advanced, or at least aren't sure if they have or not. Only 10% have noticed that video streaming is smoother and faster, and even less, 4%, say they are benefiting from high-definition voice-over LTE, a service that LTE-Advanced enables. (See Is LTE-Advanced Having an Impact?)

Want to know more about LTE's evolution? Check out our dedicated LTE content channel here on Light Reading.

There are a couple of reasons for the lack of change despite the progress operators are making with LTE-Advanced. For one thing, networks are being upgraded gradually, so it's not a wholesale change that everyone will experience out the gate. Secondly, handsets must support LTE-Advanced as well, so only consumers with compatible handsets will notice the upgrade. (See AT&T: LTE-A Devices Go Mainstream in 2015, Sprint Seeds Market with LTE-A Handsets and Qualcomm Unveils New LTE-Advanced Chips.)

And, most important, LTE-Advanced is really just a menu of network features that operators are picking and choosing from, including carrier aggregation, multiple input multiple output antennas and support for heterogeneous networks. An operator could say their network is LTE-Advanced even if they are only deploying one feature of it. (See Uncovering More of the LTE-A Smorgasbord and The Case for LTE-Advanced.)

The most common first priority for operators has been carrier aggregation, which should enable faster network speeds by bonding together two or more radio channels. The speeds can reach maximum downlink speeds of 100 Mbit/s when a user is on the move and up to 1 Gbit/s for stationary downloads. It appears, however, this isn't fast enough for consumers to really notice yet, especially as some appear to still be struggling to find LTE where they live. (See Why You Should Care About LTE-Advanced (Eventually).)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 11/3/2014 | 1:17:07 PM
No VoLTE? It's interesting that more people don't have VoLTE yet. I wonder if that's more a case of it not being turned on in their area or them not having a compatible handset. I'm sure it's a combo of both depending on which operator they are with. 
jasonmeyers 11/3/2014 | 2:01:53 PM
Re: No VoLTE? I wonder if it's also an issue of consumer confusion based on technology acronyms trickling into marketing... I mean -- how many average consumers truly understand what LTE or VoLTE are, let alone how it could benefit them? Much like marketing 4G and 5G to consumers, this could run the risk of just becoming marketing jargon (and thus losing all real meaning, if there was any real meaning to begin with).  
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