LTE connections worldwide to grow to 80 million by 2013

By the end of 2013, LTE connections will be close to 80 million. This
figure will account for connections on both FD-LTE, including that paired with
WCDMA/HSPA and CDMA 1x/EV-DO, and TD-LTE technologies globally.

“We are expecting to see more LTE networks lighting up in the next year
or two, but operators are now taking a quieter approach when it comes to
deployment,” said Fei Feng Seet, research analyst, wireless, ABI Research.

This is evident in the case of Saudi Arabia, where all three of the
nation’s operators, Mobily (Etihad Etisalat), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), and
Zain Saudi Arabia announced their LTE network launches within a matter of days
of one another. All three fought hard to gain recognition and have first mover
advantage in the Middle East.

The interesting part is that all three are rolling-out TD-LTE networks
using 2.5 GHz licensed spectrum meant for WiMAX and plan to extend their
coverage nationwide. While the Saudi operators have conducted FD-LTE trials for
over a year with various vendors, the reason behind the TD-LTE network choice
is primarily due to unavailable paired spectrum. They are waiting on the
regulator to release new spectrum, since preferred frequency is currently used
for military purposes.

The issue of insufficient spectrum echoes across various markets and is
especially evident in developing regions as regulators are a bit slow in
reacting to market needs.

Many operators are looking into the option of spectrum re-farming. While
the preferred spectrums are usually 2.6 GHz or 700 MHz, players such as
Poland’s Aero2 and Singapore’s MobileOne have successfully deployed FD-LTE on
1.8 GHz, which was slated for 3G usage. Aero2 has deployed TD-LTE on 2.5 GHz

Reacting to operator demand, both TD-LTE and FD-LTE devices are expected
to flood the market in the next few years driving subscriber connectivity.

By Team
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