Key market facts
• 858 operators investing in LTE, including pre-commitment trials.
• 672 commercially launched LTE or LTE-Advanced networks in 204 countries, including those using LTE for FWA services, and including 111 LTE-TDD (TD-LTE) networks launched in 58 countries.
• 145 commercial VoLTE networks in 70 countries and 224 operators investing in VoLTE in 102 countries.
• 241 launched networks that are LTE-Advanced in 115 countries.
• four launched networks that are capable of supporting user equipment (UE) at Cat-18 DL speeds (within limited geographic areas)
• 680–700 anticipated commercially launched LTE networks by end-2018 (GSA forecast).
• 134 operators that have been engaged in, are engaged in, plan to engage in, or have been licensed to undertake 5G demos, tests or trials of one or more constituent technologies.
• at least 48 operators that have now made public commitments to time-lines for deployment of pre-standards ‘5G’ or standards-based 5G networks in 33 countries.
VoLTE global status
224 operators are investing in VoLTE in 102 countries including 145 operators with commercially launched VoLTE-HD voice service in 70 countries, up from 134 in 65 countries in January 2018.
LTE-Advanced global status
At the start of April 2018 there were 241 commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in 115 countries. Overall 292 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced (in the form of tests, trials, deployments or commercial service provision), in 124 countries.
The wide variation in downlink speeds is unsurprising, as operators around the world have diﬀerent amounts of spectrum (numbers of carriers and bandwidth of those carriers) that they can aggregate to increase maximum throughput. They also vary in terms of their deployment of additional features such as the use of 256QAM modulation and 4x4 MIMO. Note also that some operators report theoretical downlink speeds; others report live-network tested speeds.
Carrier aggregation has been the dominant feature of LTE-Advanced networks. Varying numbers of carriers, and varying amounts of total bandwidth have been aggregated in trials and demos, but in commercial networks, the greatest number of carriers aggregated (where we have data) is fve. Some trials and demos have aggregated up to 10 carriers.