5G operators will rely on 4G/LTE networks for years to come

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According to the latest Global Development of LTE Networks and Services Survey completed this month by Hadden Telecoms Ltd, a total of 729 operators in 220 countries/territories have commercially launched 4G services delivered on LTE or LTE-Advanced networks. Operators are investing heavily in LTE and LTE-Advanced/LTE-Advanced Pro (4.5G) technologies as the global de-facto platform for delivering mobile broadband services.

Alan Hadden, Director, Hadden Telecoms Ltd., said: “With enhanced MBB positioned as the primary service for initial 5G deployments, this will be a continuation and evolution of mature 4G business models enabled by the global success of 4G/LTE systems. Many operators agree they will continue to improve their 4G networks alongside 5G investments as they believe 4G will remain the primary mobile communication network technology for a long time still.” 

Key data from this survey:

  • 729 operators in 220 countries/territories have commercially launched 4G services on LTE or LTE-Advanced systems. 61 operators launched 4G/LTE services in the past 12 months, representing 9.1%annual growth;
  • 1800 MHz is easily the most widely used band for 4G/LTE deployments and is in commercial service todayby 377 LTE operators, i.e. 52% of all LTE operators. Next come EU 800 MHz (band 20) and 2600 MHz (band 7). Refarming of other 2G and 3G bands for LTE-LTE-Advanced deployments is a significant trend (e.g. 2100 MHz band 1, and 900 MHz band 8);
  • 159 operators in 80 countries are using TDD spectrum either exclusively or within a converged FDD-TDD network build strategy;
  • 284 operators, i.e. almost 40% commercially launched LTE-Advanced or LTE-Advanced Pro/4.5G systems;
  • One third of LTE operators are making VoLTE-related investments of which 182 LTE operators (1 in 4) have launched VoLTE voice calling in 86 countries. 19 operators have introduced EVS (Enhanced Voice Services) superwideband speech audio coding in 14 countries;
  • 98 LTE operators offer VoWiFi (voice calling using a WiFi network) in 52 countries

The market for the Cellular Internet of Things (CIoT) segment is developing quickly in all regions thanks especially to strong industry traction for globally standardised LTE-based solutions Cat-M1 and NB-IoT. The current market status is:

  • 79 operators have commercially launched NB-IoT networks in 45 countries;
  • 35 operators have launched Cat-M1 networks in 25 countries;
  • 23 operators (included in the above) have deployed both technologies in 20 countries.

Related charts are available to download free at www.haddentelecoms.com

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