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New GSA Evolution to LTE Report: 2013 Ends with 260 LTE Networks in Service

The latest update to the Evolution to LTE report from GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 263 LTE networks have commercially launched in 97 countries (to January 15, 2014).

260 operators had commercially launched LTE services in 95 countries by December 31, 2013. The total of 260 exactly matched the year end forecast made by GSA last July.

112 LTE networks were launched in 2013.

A further 3 LTE networks in 2 additional countries have launched so far in 2014, raising the total to 263 commercial networks in 97 countries.

508 operators are now investing in LTE in 144 countries. This is made up of 456 firm operator commitments to build LTE networks in 135 countries, plus 52 additional operators engaged in various trials, studies, etc. in a further 9 countries. From amongst the 456  committed operators, 263 have commercially launched their services, which is 75% more than a year ago.

Alan Hadden, President of GSA, said: “GSA forecasts there will be at least 350 LTE networks in commercial service by end 2014. Key trends this year include more deployments of carrier aggregation and other LTE-Advanced features, growth in voice services enabled by VoLTE, and a significant expansion of international LTE roaming services. 2014 is also expected to be important for LTE Broadcast.”

The report highlights a growing list of operators who have commercially launched or are preparing to introduce enhancements to their networks including multicarrier support for Category 4 user devices (150 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speed), and deploying LTE-Advanced features, especially carrier aggregation. Many additional operators are trialling carrier aggregation with some combining two 20 MHz carriers to enable a theoretical peak downlink speed of 300 Mbps, for commercialisation by mid-2014.

Voice service for LTE users moved up the agenda for many operators as network coverage increased (now nationwide in a number of countries) and as the penetration and usage of LTE-capable smartphones has increased. The first wave of VoLTE service launches, including support for HD voice, has begun with several more launches expected in 2014. The number of VoLTE-compatible phones on the market has also significantly improved in recent months, estimated as over 30 models. 

The majority of LTE operators have deployed the FDD mode of the standard. The most widely used band in network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz which is used in 44% of commercially launched LTE networks. 115 operators worldwide have now launched LTE1800 (band 3) systems, 37% higher than 6 months ago, in 61 countries, either as a single band system, or as part of a multi-band deployment. As 1800 MHz is the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, it will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband. Mobile licences for 1800 MHz have been awarded to 350+ operators in nearly 150 countries.

The next most popular contiguous bands are 2.6 GHz (band 7) as used in 27% of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800 MHz (band 20) used in 12% of networks, and AWS (band 4) used in 8% of networks.

Interest in the TDD mode (TD-LTE) has strengthened. For the first time GSA confirms that more than 10% of commercial LTE networks incorporate the TDD mode. Worldwide, 28 LTE TDD systems are commercially launched in 21 countries, including 13 operators who have deployed both FDD and TDD modes in their mobile operations.

International LTE roaming is commercial reality. Several roaming agreements have been announced and implemented as referenced in the report, and many further market developments are anticipated in the coming year.

The report also highlights the benefits and opportunities using LTE Broadcast, now being trialled by several operators. LTE Broadcast enables multiple users to receive the same content simultaneously. It offers mobile-network operators a profitable business proposition through service differentiation, new revenue opportunities, and more efficient distribution of live and other digital media. 2014 is expected to be an important year of progress for LTE Broadcast and is one of the new key topics that GSA will discuss in the coming months.

The Evolution to LTE report (January 15, 2014) is a free download from for registered site users.

Registration page for new users:

Numerous charts, maps etc. confirming the progress of mobile broadband developments including LTE are also available on the home page and at

About GSA

GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) represents GSM/EDGE/WCDMA-HSPA/LTE suppliers, providing trusted reports, facts, and information explaining market developments, trends, influencing policy. Member benefits include reaching key audiences via 61,000 website registered users and using GAMBoD for detailed information about the mobile broadband devices ecosystem.



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