At the end of 2013, some 228 commercial LTE networks were deployed across 94 countries in all regions of the world. LTE networks in Asia Pacific represented 16% of global deployments at the close of the year, with networks present in 17 nations in the region. Live LTE networks are defined as those with commercial service offerings for businesses or consumers, or both, with associated service plans.
Over 67% of Asia’s LTE networks are using spectrum in a single band, a further 24% are based on dual-band deployments, with the balance of networks using spectrum across three bands for the delivery of LTE services. On a proportional basis across single, dual- and triple-band LTE networks, 1800-MHz spectrum is deployed in 44% of networks, followed by 2600-MHz FDD spectrum with a 20.4% share (see chart). Over 11% of LTE networks are using 2100-MHz spectrum on a standalone basis or combined with spectrum in other bands.
Asia-Pacific LTE spectrum profile
Source: Tolaga Research, LTE Market Monitor, 201
Of the single band LTE deployments in the Asia Pacific, 48% are based on the use of 1800-MHz spectrum while 20% are using paired FDD spectrum in the 2600-MHz band. These figures compare with 40.4% of single-band European LTE networks reliant on 1800 MHz and 34.5% using 2600-MHz paired spectrum. Forty three percent of dual-band deployments in the Pacific include the use of 1800-MHz in combination with spectrum in another band, 29% include 2600-MHz FDD spectrum and 21% of dual-band networks make use of 2300-MHz unpaired TDD spectrum.
Sixteen percent of LTE networks in the region are using unpaired TDD spectrum resources on both a standalone and multi-band basis. With spectrum now allocated and service providers in China entering the LTE fray, the momentum behind TDD LTE and its developing ecosystem in the region will escalate dramatically in 2014.
Many service providers in Asia Pacific have plans to launch commercial LTE services this year, including operators that are transitioning from Wimax to LTE. In addition, dual- and multi-band LTE networks will continue to proliferate as operators augment existing spectrum resources dedicated to LTE, as many service providers pursue plans to implement LTE-Advanced via carrier aggregation and as a result of ongoing allocation of new spectrum by regulators. Of note, the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) 700-MHz plan has been widely adopted across the Asia Pacific whereby up to 2 x 45 MHz of spectrum will be available for use for mobile services as nations in the region progress with the switchover of terrestrial television broadcasting from analog to digital.
Dianne Northfield is VP of research at Tolaga Research -- www.tolaga.com