Long-Term Evolution (LTE), the most sought after next-generation (4G) super-fast wireless communications technology, is gaining rapid momentum worldwide. 4G wireless networks primarily aim to cope with the substantial rise in demand for high-speed wireless data services and mobile video.
According to a recent research report published by leading trade organization 4G Americas, at present the number of LTE subscribers worldwide is around 907 million compared with 635 million at the end of first-quarter 2015. The trade organization estimates that this figure will reach 3.6 billion globally by the end of 2020. At present, there are 430 commercially active LTE networks spread across 145 countries.
Wireless network standards are continuously evolving around the globe to offer faster speed. Following significant deployment of 4G LTE networks, LTE-A (Long-Term Evolution Advanced) wireless networks are gradually finding solid foothold globally. 4G Americas’ report has revealed that currently there are 100 commercially active LTE-A networks around the world compared with 33 at the end of 2014. As of now, 49 countries have at least one and 34 countries boast at least two live LTE-A networks.
LTE-A is a more powerful version of the legacy LTE network offering increased speed and network capacity. Carrier aggregation is the most important part of LTE-A technology as it allows wireless operators to create large spectrum assets by combining different frequency bands. LTE-A also incorporates several technological advancements like Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP), Self-Optimizing Networks (SON), Small cell enhancements, Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC) and Advanced Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) antenna.
4G Americas also stated that the latest version of LTE-A network, which is popularly known as LTE-Advanced Pro (3GPP Release 13) will be a major step toward the smooth transition from 4G to the upcoming 5G network standard. In the U.S., all four national telecom operators, namely, Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, AT&T Inc. T, T-Mobile US Inc. TMUS and Sprint Corp. S have deployed LTE-A networks. Moreover, Verizon has already decided to introduce 5G wireless standard in 2018.
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