wireless towerMore than 8 in 10 network service providers are running advanced LTE networks based on LTE-A, according to an LTE-A deployment survey from IHS Markit. Eighty-four percent of service provider respondents said they were already running LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks, well above about the 50 percent that said so a year ago, noted IHS Markit in its “4G Strategies Global Service Provider Survey¨.

The results clearly indicate that carriers are quickly migrating from initial LTE deployments and taking advantage of carrier aggregation highlights IHS Markit Senior Research Director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics Stéphane Téral.

Téral points out that according to GSA, the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, 521 network operators in 170 countries are running LTE, LTE-A or LTE-Advanced Pro networks. Furthermore, GSA has upped its 2016 forecast, expecting that 560 LTE networks will have been launched by year-end. Of the total, 147 LTE network operators are operating LTE-A networks. Nine have launched LTE-Advanced Pro networks.

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Barriers to 4G deployment have become all but non-existent as industry participants have been able to collaborate successfully and advance according to the industry’s 4G LTE roadmap, Téral continues. The ability to implement upgrades easily and widespread standards compliance were the two top LTE features cited by survey respondents.

LTE-A Deployment Survey
From the economic perspective, it’s the lower cost per megabyte of data transport that’s driving deployment growth.

Regarding the most commonly deployed LTE network features, inter-band carrier aggregation came out on top, followed by enhanced inter-cell interference coordination and LTE-A coordinated multipoint. Three- and four-component carrier aggregation is emerging fast, and five-component carrier aggregation is expected to be released soon, Teral notes.

Sprint (NYSE: S) on Aug. 15 announced it reached peak speeds of 295 Mbps in three-channel carrier aggregation lab tests using the HTC 10, one of the first devices on the market to support the functionality. Sprint is testing three-channel carrier aggregation in its labs to evaluate overall performance, speed, and reliability as it prepares for LTE Plus network deployment, the wireless network service provider reported.

Similarly, use of LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U) has surged in the past 12 months. More than half survey respondents said they plan to deploy LTE-U by 2018. Many of them operate in highly competitive markets, which pushes them to take advantage of as much spectrum as possible to attract and retain subscribers and stay ahead of the competition, as well as avoid a possible crunch in network capacity, according to Téral.

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