Spectrum issues to slow LTE deployment
Deployment of LTE services could be hampered by spectrum issues, according to ABI Research
LTE networks are expected to cover a population of some 600 million by the end of 2012, although uptake of services is likely to be constrained by spectrum issues, according to a report from ABI Research.
"By the end of 2010, 20 LTE networks are expected to have flicked the 'on' switch, but it may surprise many that LTE will only make up 11% of installed base stations by the end of 2015," said Jake Saunders, VP for forecasting at ABI Research.
"LTE population coverage will have crept up to 600 million by 4Q-2012, but 4G marketing hype will precede 4G reality for several years to come," he said.
Saunders said that despite the "elegant solutions" promised by LTE, legislative and legal issues in many countries could threaten to slow down deployment.
"4G has a number of elegant solutions embedded in the technology, but the reality is that 4G spectrum awards will occur in a fragmented manner and will need to pass legislative and legal challenges in many markets," he said.
"In fact for many emerging markets, ‘4G mobility' is still very much an ‘out there' concept. Some markets in South America and Africa have yet to consolidate their 3G spectrum awards."
On a more optimistic note, the report added that many of the carriers that have 3G licenses have also deployed HSDPA and HSUPA, while 50 carriers have installed HSPA+, which enables speeds of up to 56 Mbps.
ABI Research estimated that by 2015, 75% of WCDMA-capable base stations will have completed the HSPA+ upgrade. In 2012 alone, equipment spending on HSPA+ will be 11% of total equipment expenditure, the report added.