LTE rollouts to slip to 2013
Analysts say GSM standards will dominate rollout and upgrades in 2010
Fourth generation technology long term evolution (LTE) will continue to be developed in 2010 with some operators trialing the technology, but GSM standards will dominate network rollouts and upgrades, analysts say.
Research firm Informa says that mobile LTE commercial launches will slip to 2013 and even 2014, but the fourth generation technology's role as a provider of rural broadband connectivity will gain momentum.
"2010 will be a year of further LTE trials but progress towards commercial services is likely to be slow," it said in a research note. "Informa expects only a handful of cautious early forays from the likes of Verizon and NTT DoCoMo towards the end of the year. Mobile LTE commercial launches in GSM-only markets will slip back to 2013-2014 as HSPA+ comes into the market."
Similarly, ABI Research advised that although the attention of the industry has been held by LTE, GSM standards still have a significant role to play in the telecom sector.
"Every year the bell is tolled for the demise of GSM but somehow this air interface seems to keep rolling on," it commented in a recent research paper. "Although the trend is certainly downward, much of the third world is still rolling out GSM, GPRS, EDGE infrastructure and mobile devices."
It points to the fact that "a sizeable block of the world's population" has only recently joined the mobile community, and that many people are still enjoying low speed data functions like SMS.
"In this communications universe, cost drives almost everything and inexpensive base stations and ten-dollar handsets with five-dollar monthly bills will be the norm."
Despite the hype that continues to surround LTE, ABI Research suggests that "most LTE rollouts will not start for a few years". Instead, many operators will focus capital spending on squeezing out faster data rates and increased capacity from existing 3G networks. "Nor will there be many types of LTE-enabled devices, apart from some USB modems and perhaps some demo LTE handsets."