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Latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media identifies eight core LTE bands
Half of mobile operators planning to launch LTE networks will do so initially in the 2.6GHz band
Operators that are eager to deploy LTE have to make choices based on current availability of spectrum, rather than waiting for new bands to be licensed or for capacity to be freed up. Those planning to deploy in the future have to formulate their plans against a background of uncertainty about spectrum availability and timelines.
"Despite the almost universal commitment to LTE, there is widespread uncertainty about the availability of spectrum and a lack of consensus when it comes to which spectrum bands will be most widely adopted for the technology. The mobile industry needs to address this by identifying a set of core bands for LTE, to focus development of the technology where the greatest demand exists," comments Julian Bright, senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
Almost half of mobile operators planning to launch LTE networks will do so initially in the 2.6GHz band, although many of these launches are dependent on the licensing of new spectrum over the next two to four years. The bands around 700MHz to 800MHz are expected to be the next-most-widely used for initial launches, and a number of operators in Asia Pacific and Europe plan to use the 1800MHz band.
Spectrum in the 2.6GHz band has been licensed in only a handful of countries in Europe and Asia Pacific, but it is generally expected to be allocated before the digital-dividend bands, which are subject to uncertain timescales in many cases. Early deployments in the lower frequency bands have been concentrated in the US, where the low cost of using the premium 700MHz band relative to the higher bands has suited the aggressive rollout plans of operators such as Verizon.
Interest in the low-to-midrange frequency bands was also apparent in Germany's spectrum auctions, where some operators placed a higher value on the spectrum bands around 800MHz than on those around 2.6GHz, and in the growing interest in the 1800MHz band's ability to provide an attractive combination of cost, coverage and capacity.
Informa’s research aims to establish the size of the expected addressable market for LTE, by band and major region. The research also examines the attractiveness of different bands for LTE not only in terms of technology but also in terms of policy and regulation. The initial results have provided a broad picture of mobile operators’ planned use of spectrum for LTE-network deployments but the aim is to provide a more in-depth analysis in the future.
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