Monday, March 13, 2017

ABI Reports 16.5m LTE-A Pro subs in 2016 and Forecasts 641m by 2021

ABI Research finds in its report, LTE-Advanced Pro/4.5G: Bridging the Gap to 5G, that as LTE-Advanced Pro deployments gain momentum the technology, which offers an upgrade from current LTE-Advanced networks, can enable the transition to 5G for mobile operators.

ABI estimates that global subscribers for LTE-Advanced Pro high-speed downlink services totalled 16.5 million at the end of 2016 and forecasts that global subscribers to high-speed data services will exceed 641 million by 2021, with 87% of the total in Asia Pacific, North America and Western Europe region,

The research firm notes that delivering downlink speeds of between 450 Mbit/s and up to 1.2 Gbit/s utilising LTE-Advanced Pro is dependent on a number of technology enhancements, namely a minimum of 3-component carrier aggregation (CA), 4 x 4 MIMO antennae and 256QAM downlink combined with 16QAM uplink modulation. The use of these technologies allows high speed user access as well as freeing up limited network resources and optimising the spectral efficiency of the mobile network.

ABI estimates that there are currently approximately 120 LTE-Advanced Pro trials or commercial deployments in place. Notably, Australia's Telstra launched its Gigabit-class LTE service in January 2017, while other operators with projects underway include AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S., NTT DOCOMO in Japan and SK Telecom in South Korea.

The research firm adds that while current smartphones are not yet capable of supporting gigabit LTE speeds, it expects that mass device production will begin later this year based on early announcements of flagship gigabit LTE smartphones by several established OEMs during the recent Mobile World Congress 2017.

Commenting on the report, Jake Saunders, VP at ABI Research, said, "LTE-Advanced Pro gives mobile network operators a capex-friendly option to continue upgrading their networks… 5G may be still out of the reach for many operators, but through incremental investment LTE-Advanced Pro guarantees features that will generate new business cases for operators and better user experience for end users, while preparing for 5G deployment".

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