#1 – LTE uptake
LTE in 2011: Like spring weather – up and down, but with summer coming up
LTE momentum is moving in to a period of sustained high pressure. There have been nine commercial LTE deployments this year and a further 44 additional launches are anticipated for 2011. In total, 113 operators have publically committed to the technology across 46 different countries with 43 LTE trials currently in operation. Despite this strong growth, LTE faces an unpredictable future in 2011 with its sustained global deployment being impacted by a variety of different factors.
A vast majority of global Mobile Broadband momentum rests with HSPA as the technology continues to meet the requirements of a majority of mobile consumers. The current status quo is unlikely to last forever however as more and more operators hunt for additional capacity to satisfy the needs of an increasingly bandwidth-hungry mobile consumer. Enter LTE technology.
LTE requires additional spectrum and the technology-neutral bands currently on offer are leading to widespread fragmentation, frustrating global chipset and device manufacturers. This fragmentation means that chipset and device providers are having to target specific regions where spectrum is available to support the delivery of LTE services to mobile consumers. There is no “one approach fits all” solution to the problem. Among markets launching LTE next year, larger ones like the US and Germany are therefore likely to get the highest attention from device manufacturers while smaller markets may lose out near term.
LTE terminals will continue to be made available in 2011 but will mainly consist of data-centric dongles and WiFi routers. These will be launched with premium pricing models that will reduce in time to provide mobile operators with a potential “DSL killer” within two years. Widespread LTE enabled smartphones will be available beyond 2011, when there will be sufficient choice to interest mobile consumers and a proven LTE voice solution will have been found.
So to summarise, the global vendor and operator community will continue to contemplate LTE migration as they prepare themselves for future next-generation mobile broadband evolution. The LTE ecosystem will continue to build and drive LTE handset availability and choice at realistic cost points. A vast majority of global operators will continue to sweat existing HSPA networks in 2011 while the LTE marketing machine rumbles on.