LTE-capable mobile communication networks will continue to mushroom around the globe through 2018, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.
In particular, frequency-division duplex (FDD) networks will see their population coverage expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent between 2012 and 2018 -- reaching 57 percent penetration.
Time-division duplex (TDD) networks will gain ground at a more rapid rate of 43 percent during this period, but will only reach 52 percent population coverage due to the fewer licensed markets currently available.
This overall picture is consistent with the network equipment contracts awarded to vendors thus far this year. Slightly more than half of the contracts concluded are related to LTE-FDD.
"However, LTE-TDD will start to close the gap," said Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research.
Dual-mode device chip-sets supporting both variants as well as converged FDD/TDD network solutions are already available. It’s only a matter of time before the need for more spectrum pushes an increasing number of operators to embrace both simultaneously.
Regarding available radio spectrum, about three-quarters of recent and upcoming auctions grant the rights to deploy 4G networks. Of these, 29 percent involve 2,600 MHz, 25 percent 800 MHz, and 22 percent 1,800 MHz -- making these three bands the most popular.
Currently, 1,800 MHz is the most widely used frequency band for LTE. The rising popularity of 800 MHz, especially in Europe, will help operators save cost when fulfilling the aggressive roll-out obligation set by regulators worldwide, which is a key reason for the rapid increase in population coverage.
ABI Research aims to provide a comprehensive source of information about mobile network providers, their operating spectra, and network technologies globally.
ABI covers seven geographical regions and includes a comprehensive list of all operational wireless networks along with their operating frequency bands and wireless technologies.
I'll be sharing more details on their latest related market studies in the coming weeks.