The start of 2017 saw the continued introduction of LTE to new markets and regions around the world. Although already widely deployed, it is still being introduced and several countries announced LTE services. By early July 2017, there were 601 LTE networks in service worldwide in 192 countries.
280 operators have commercially launched LTE1800 in 119 countries. 1800 MHz is the most widely used prime band for LTE. 41 operators have launched in APT700 Band 28. 98 TD-LTE systems are commercially launched in 56 countries. 197 commercial LTE-Advanced networks in 96 countries.
2017 has seen LTE/4G services introduced by operators in 21 regions/countries including Afghanistan, Antarctica, Barbados, Bermuda, Botswana, Congo, Cook Islands, Guyana, Libya, Madagascar, Nepal, Northern Mariana Islands, Myanmar, Pakistan, Samoa, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tahiti, Trinidad & Tobago and Vietnam.
170 operators are investing in VoLTE in 75 countries including 109 operators with commercially launched VoLTE-HD voice service in 57 countries. Operators introducing VoLTE services in the second quarter of 2017 were Sunrise (Switzerland), TeliaSonera (Sweden), 3 (Sweden), and U Mobile (Malaysia). Deployments, trials and plans for launch were announced by Jazz (Pakistan), Smart (Philippines) and Digi Mobile (Romania). VoLTE and VoLTE roaming services were launched in April 2017 by CSL in Hong Kong and CTM in Macau.
Global Statistics on 4G:
- 782 operators investing in LTE in 200 countries
- 601 commercially launched LTE or LTE-Advanced networks in 192 countries, including 98 LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) launched in 56 countries
- 109 commercial VoLTE networks in 57 countries and 170 operators investing in VoLTE in 75 countries
- 197 launched networks are LTE-Advanced in 96 countries
- GSA forecasts 652 commercially launched LTE networks by end-2017
- 6 NB-IoT and 2 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks are commercially launched, with 55 NB-IoT and 16 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks planned or being trialled
As of 31 March 2017, there were 197 commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in 96 countries. Recent launches of LTE-Advanced networks are those by Rain (a fixed wireless network operator in South Africa), Dialog Axiata (Sri Lanka), and Kcell (Kazakhstan). MPT (Myanmar) launched a 150 Mbit/s-capable network using 4×4 MIMO, but without features making it LTE-Advanced.
Expansions of existing LTE-Advanced networks have been announced by at least eight operators in the last quarter. Many operators are increasing the speeds of their LTE-Advanced networks using different carrier aggregation combinations, and are extending the coverage of LTE-Advanced to more cities. New or expanded LTE-Advanced trials and plans have been announced by Telenor Bulgaria, A1 Slovenija, Vodacom South Africa, Vivacell Armenia and NBN (for fixed wireless services in Australia).
Some LTE-Advanced networks make use of features that are marketed as LTE-Advanced Pro, for instance, those making use of carrier aggregation of large numbers of channels, or carriers across TDD and FDD modes, LAA, massive MIMO, Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk, LTE Cat-NB1/NB-IoT or LTE-M/Cat-M1. Some networks are also promoted as “Gigabit LTE” if they make use of multiple LTE-Advanced networks to deliver very high downlink throughput.
Carrier aggregation has been the dominant feature of LTE-Advanced networks. Varying numbers of carriers, and varying amounts of total bandwidth have been aggregated in trials and demos, but in commercial networks, the greatest number of carriers aggregated (where we have data) is five. Some trials and demos have aggregated up to 10 carriers.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The second quarter of 2017 saw momentum continue to build behind cellular IoT networks based on NB-IoT/Cat-NB1 and LTE-M/Cat-M1. Most activity involved NB-IoT/Cat-NB1. 6 commercial NB-IoT networks (Telus Canada, T-Mobile Netherlands (nationwide since May 2017), Telia Norway, Vodafone Spain, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodacom South Africa). 55 networks in 37 countries trialling, demonstrating or planning to deploy NB-IoT/Cat-NB1 (18 of them with a stated commitment to launch during 2017). 2 commercial LTE-M networks (Verizon USA and AT&T USA).
16 other networks in 10 countries trialling, demonstrating or planning to deploy LTE-M/Cat-M1 (7 of them with a stated commitment to launch during 2017). There are two NB-IoT/Cat-NB1 networks planned by operators who are not operating LTE networks: Velcom in Belarus (using GSM 900 MHz spectrum), and Dish in the US (using its 700 MHz spectrum assets).
By the end of 2017, GSA forecasts 652 LTE networks will be in service. In the last quarter, spectrum awards for additional services, trials or deployment plans have come to light in several countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and Pakistan. In total, 782 operators worldwide have either announced trials of, or made commitments to deploy, or have deployed LTE; and a further 27 have been involved in pre-commitment trials.