Asia Pacific and Latin America dominate network launch plans, set to challenge Europe and North America
India, Malaysia and Vietnam are leaders in emerging APAC market for number of LTE networks planned
LTE (Long-Term Evolution) is out of the experimental stage and is being deployed worldwide. Operators in all markets are in the process of implementing LTE, but the emergence of the Asia Pacific and Latin American regions is set to challenge European and North American operators’ early lead.
These trends are analysed in Analysys Mason’s forthcoming report on the outlook for LTE worldwide.
LTE network planning, trials and deployments
The first LTE deployments occurred in Finland and Sweden, and the world’s largest LTE network is in the United States, but emerging Asia Pacific (APAC) and Latin America (LATAM) have the highest number of planned LTE networks, according to Analysys Mason’s Wireless networks tracker (see Figure 1 below).
Adoption of the Asia Pacific Telecommunity Band Plan (APT700) in Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Mexico provides operators and users in the LATAM region with access to the worldwide LTE700 ecosystem, which offers a broad choice of equipment and terminals.
The large number of frequencies that LTE supports has generated concern among industry players, but in practice operators often need to support fewer than seven in order to provide a wide range of services for their users.
Emerging markets are also taking advantage of LTE technology. India, Malaysia and Vietnam are the leaders in the emerging APAC region for the number of LTE networks planned. Operators in India, Malaysia and Nepal are also planning to launch TD-LTE (Time Division LTE) networks.
We expect several operators in EMAP (Emerging Asia Pacific) to deploy FD-/TD-LTE (Fixed Division-Time Division LTE) networks in order to take advantage of their paired and unpaired spectrum. Ten dual-technology LTE networks are already in commercial operation.
Trials show growing base in Europe, APAC
Our research indicates that 59 LTE network trials were in progress as of July 31, 2013. This figure includes cases where an operator has multiple trials underway, but might not eventually deploy operational networks.
However, we can reasonably expect (with more than 80% probability) that most of these trials will result in commercial deployment within the next two years.
The largest number of LTE network trials is in Central and Eastern Europe (at 26), emerging APAC (24) and Western Europe (20).
Trials in the first two regions are being driven by adoption of the technology among regional operators such as Bharti Airtel and Reliance Infotel. Infrastructure vendors such as Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), Samsung and ZTE are demonstrating the required network upgrade and transition options, including LTE overlay and single-RAN (Radio Access Network) solutions.
Strong support for LTE in APAC and LATAM will start to offset the early influence that European and North American operators (some of which have a two- or three-year head-start on deploying the technology) have had on the device and network vendors.
We expect a more-balanced global LTE market to emerge by 2018, in which markets such as Brazil, India and Russia will each account for 5% of LTE connections worldwide.
Chris Nicoll is the lead analyst for Analysys Mason's Wireless Networks and Spectrum research programmes. His primary areas of specialisation include wireless access technologies, wireless traffic forecasting, mobile infrastructure and operator strategy. Analysys Mason is a global consultancy and research company specialising in telecoms, media and technology.
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