VoLTE is unlikely to make a significant impact in 2014 because few countries will have the breadth of network needed for useful service.
LTE continues to make an impact on the mobile networking landscape, and 2014 will mark the arrival of new features and capabilities that show just how capable the technology is in meeting mobile broadband requirements for a wide range of mobile operators.
In 2014, more operators will deploy LTE-A carrier aggregation (CA), including operators doing initial LTE deployments. CA benefits operators with multiple spectrum positions, those with small pieces, and particularly operators that are combining acquired networks. The initial focus is on higher-speed services, but we expect more deployments of 5+5-MHz carrier aggregation as emerging markets deploy LTE in 2014.
Early testing of carrier aggregation is enabling operators to bind separate spectrum channels together to create larger channels and faster wireless services, and reduce opex and capex costs from running multiple networks. SK Telecom and LG Uplus in South Korea are offering commercial LTE-A carrier aggregation services supporting speeds of up to 150-Mbps, and EE in the UK has demonstrated near 300-Mbps LTE-A service in London.
Larger network operators such as AT&T, Sprint, Telefónica, Verizon and Vodafone, as well as operators holding multiple spectrum positions such as EE, T-Mobile, Telstra, will be early implementers of carrier aggregation.
LTE band fractionalization will come to an end in 2014. Despite early and well-publicized concerns regarding the number of different bands supporting LTE (25 for FD-LTE and 11 for TD-LTE), the market has – as we had expected – focused on five bands for FD-LTE (700-MHz, 800-MHz, AWS (1.7-GHz and 2.1-GHz), 1.8-GHz and 2.6-GHz) and four for TD-LTE (2.3-GHz, 2.5-GHz, 2.6-GHz and 3.5/3.6-GHz).