Presently, 644 commercially launched LTE or LTE-Advanced networks in 200 countries, including 100 LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) networks launched in 57 countries are operational globally. By the end of 2017, GSA forecasts 680-700 LTE networks will be commercial.
The first nine months of 2017 saw introduction of LTE to new markets and regions around the world. Although already widely deployed, it is still being introduced and several countries have recently announced LTE services. By the end of September 2017, there were 644 public LTE networks in service in 200 countries worldwide, including networks providing mobile services and networks using LTE for fixed wireless access (FWA) services in constrained geographic areas.
Deployment of LTE-Advanced is the key trend globally. Carrier Aggregation (CA) was the first feature to be commercialized, facilitating higher data throughput in both directions, more efficient use of spectrum assets for network operators and an enhanced user experience of mobile broadband. LTE-Advanced Pro (Release 13 and later) features enable the era of Gigabit LTE for enhanced mobile broadband service.
Most LTE-Advanced systems support Category 6 (300 Mbit/s downlink) user devices. The ecosystems of networks and devices for Category 9 (450 Mbit/s) and higher are rapidly developing and 256 QAM, high-order MIMO, more carrier aggregation and LTE-Advanced Pro features are supporting this move. The introduction of HD voice services for LTE users enabled by VoLTE is entering the mainstream. Commercialization of LTE Broadcast, enabled by eMBMS technology, is slowly developing.
In total, 794 operators worldwide have either announced trials of, or made commitments to deploy, or have deployed LTE; and a further 20 have been involved in pre-commitment trials. There are 100 LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) systems are commercially launched in 57 countries. Launch was announced in the last quarter for Starhub in Singapore, and T-Mobile Netherlands. 33 operators have deployed converged FDD & TDD networks.
205 operators are investing in VoLTE in 95 countries including 125 operators with commercially launched VoLTE-HD voice service in 60 countries. In the last six months services have been introduced by operators in Croatia, France, Hungary, Kuwait, Malaysia, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland, and the latest operator to announce the launch of VoLTE services was Bharti Airtel in India.
As of end September 2017, there were 212 commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in 105 countries. The number of unique operators investing in LTE-Advanced (in the form of tests, trials, deployments or commercial service provision) has reached 285 in 120 countries. 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.
Global 4G and 5G Statistics:
- 814 operators investing in LTE
- 644 commercially launched LTE or LTE-Advanced networks in 200 countries, including 100 LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) networks launched in 57 countries
- 125 commercial VoLTE networks in 60 countries and 205 operators are investing in VoLTE in 95 countries
- 212 LTE-Advanced network launched in 105 countries
- 7 launched networks supports Cat-16 user equipment
- 680-700 anticipated commercially launched LTE networks by end-2017
- At least 32 operators have made public commitments to deploy pre-standard 5G networks in 23 countries
- 18 NB-IoT and 5 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks commercially launched, with 60 NB-IoT and 21 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks planned or being trialled
- 103 operators investing in 5G (demos, tests and trials of one or more constituent technologies)
The third 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. 78 operators are investing in NB-IoT in 46 countries, including 18 commercial NB-IoT networks in 14 countries and a further 60 networks in 40 countries trialling, demonstrating or planning to deploy NB-IoT/Cat-NB1.
26 operators investing in LTE Cat-M1 including 5 commercial LTE-M networks: Etisalat (UAE), AT&T (USA), Telstra (Australia), Turkcell (Turkey) and Verizon (USA). 21 other networks in 16 countries trialling, demonstrating or planning to deploy LTE-M/Cat-M1 (six of them with a stated commitment to launch during 2017).
GSA has identified 103 operators in 49 countries are investing in 5G technology in the form of demos, lab trials, or field tests that are either under way or planned. Operators continue to provide clarity about their intentions in terms of launch timetables for 5G, or pre-standards 5G. At least 32 operators have now made public commitments to deploy 5G or pre-standards 5G networks in 23 countries, with the earliest launch dates currently planned by operators in Italy and the US, though the earliest launches are necessarily limited in scope to either specific applications, or in limited geographic areas where they will function as extended commercial trials ahead of further development and roll-out.
The launch of pre-5G and 5G deployment by operators will begin from 2018 onwards depending upon when 5G standards get evolved and formalised by the standards body.