Saturday, September 26, 2015

LTE2100 - The New Trend in Global LTE Rollouts

Globally LTE deployments going on in the fastest way and the new trend is LTE2100 (FDD). The trend is something major that GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, published its first status report about the development of LTE in 2.1 GHz, known as 3GPP band 1.

Common deployment trend at present: 
LTE FDD : 1800, 800, 2600 and 2100 MHz
LTE TDD : 2300, 3500 MHz

The reason behind the interest in LTE2100:

  1. In some countries carriers are shutting/scaling down 3G networks. So they have freed up spectrum on 2100MHz. 
  2. Governments are selling/offering tech neutral spectrum even on this band. 
  3. All operators launched LTE FDD on 2.1GiHz band as supplementation to their existing LTE network(s) and use for CA (carrier aggregation).

List of LTE2100 Networks:

South Africa - Cell C
Czech Republic - T Mobile, Vodafone
Estonia - Tele2
Poland - Play/P4
Japan - au, NTT docomo, SoftBank
Phillipines - Smart
South Korea - LG U+, SK Telecom
Thailand - DTAC, TrueMove-H
Saudi Arabia - Zain
Australia - Optus

Cell C in South Africa is the latest entrant in LTE2100 space, it completely shut down 3G networks and now offers 3G over Vodacom's networks and rolled out LTE2100. 

Indian scenario:

LTE2100 is long way to come in India. First 4G wave is waiting for mass adaption, hence operators can't think of shutting down 3G signals. Secondly 3G is still making money that's not enough for operators investment on 3G. So they are not freeing up this band in near future. Thirdly operators have very little amount of spectrum - 5MHz in most circles, compared to LTE2100 operators are rolling out on 10MHz.

The PR of GSA reads:

The 2.1 GHz band is typically used for 3G systems deployments in many regions of the world, with WCDMA-HSPA being the dominant technology . An increasing number of operators are now using channels within this band for delivering 4G/LTE-based mobile broadband services, either as a single band deployment, though increasingly as part of multi-band LTE-Advanced networks enabled by carrier aggregation technology. In this way operators are able to boost LTE network performance and data speeds, to deliver an improved user experience. The main infrastructure vendors all offer LTE2100 (i.e. LTE operating in 2.1 GHz spectrum) solutions. 

Many regulatory authorities have facilitated the use of 2.1 GHz spectrum for 4G systems by adopting a technology neutrality policy and technology neutral 2.1 GHz licences have already been granted in several countries. GSA expects this trend will continue and considers it very likely that 2.1 GHz will be used in LTE network deployments by even more network operators. 

The LTE2100 market status report by GSA confirms that 15 operators in 11 countries have commercially launched LTE systems and service using 2.1 GHz (band 1) spectrum, almost double the number of networks launched compared to one year earlier. Several additional operators are deploying or considering use of 2.1 GHz for their commercial LTE network deployments where feasible. 

According to GSA data, over 36% of all LTE user devices can operate in 2.1 GHz band 1 spectrum, compared to 28% one year earlier. 1,185 LTE2100 user devices have been announced to the market by 142 manufacturers. 

Alan Hadden, VP of Research at GSA, said: "The number of LTE2100 compatible devices more than doubled over the past year (118% higher). Band 1 is the third most supported band for LTE devices, following 1800 MHz (band 3) and 2.6 GHz (band 7)".
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