LTE device interoperability issues and lack of spectrum harmonization to impact roll outs


The global adoption of LTE services risks
being hampered by device interoperability issues unless harmonized spectrum
band plans can be achieved. 

There will be 38 different spectrum
frequency combinations used in LTE deployments by 2015, a fragmented scenario
fuelled by ongoing spectrum auctions, licence renewals and re-farming
initiatives across frequency bands.

The lack of spectrum harmonization creates
challenges for emerging LTE ecosystem, preventing vendors from delivering
compatible LTE products such as devices and chipsets, or requiring them to
increase prices.

“Spectrum fragmentation has the
potential to hinder global LTE roaming if device manufacturers are required to
include support for many disparate frequencies in their devices,” said
Wireless Intelligence senior analyst and report author Joss Gillet.

There will be more than 200 live LTE
networks in over 70 countries by 2015, up from 40 networks in 24 countries
today. The report notes that the IMT-extension band (2500/2600MHz) is the most
globally harmonized band used in LTE deployments to date, accounting for over
half of live networks in 2011.

The number of LTE connections is forecast
to grow from 7 million in 2011 to close to 300 million by 2015. More than
two-thirds of global LTE connections today relate to deployments at 700MHz due
to the large-scale rollouts underway in the United States, according to GSMA. 

Asia Pacific has the most varied spectral
combinations of all the global regions despite significant support for LTE at
2100MHz (Japan), 2500MHz (China) and 1800MHz (Southeast Asia). Asia Pacific,
Africa and the Middle East will represent a joint 50 percent of global LTE
connections by 2015, which further underlines the urgent need for spectrum

Spectrum fragmentation is set to increase
over the next four years as more LTE networks are deployed in the digital
dividend (700/800MHz) and re-farmed frequency bands. Among the 38 frequency
combinations predicted by 2015, the 700/800MHz band is expected to be used in
around a quarter of LTE network deployments, compared to approximately
one-third for the IMT-extension band and one third using re-farmed spectrum.

Spectrum re-farming will grow in importance
as an interim solution as operators await additional spectrum to be allocated
by governments and regulators. One-third of LTE operators around the globe will
be unable to secure any additional spectrum in the 700, 800, 2500 or 2600 MHz
bands before 2016 at the earliest which will further exacerbate data capacity
issues and limit LTE coverage expansion plans.

By Team
[email protected]