Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

North America 4G LTE Network Infrastructure Update

Some leading nations have already reached a major milestone in deploying next-generation wireless broadband capabilities. The mobile network operators in North America are nearing the end of the first wave of 4G LTE investment.

Already Verizon’s LTE network boasts population coverage of more than 95 percent. Around 70 percent of the American people also have access to AT&T's LTE network. In Canada, the Telus LTE network covers 77 percent of the population while Bell and Rogers are hot on its heels.

So, what's next for these mobile network service providers? How will each company choose to maximize the significant investment they've already made in wireless broadband infrastructure?

"To be sure, there is still work to be done," says Ying Kang Tan, research associate at ABI Research.

These operators are still tuning their networks, deploying small cells to improve capacity as well as indoor coverage, preparing their networks for Voice-over-LTE, and employing carrier aggregation techniques where necessary.

However, it does mean a significant portion of LTE capital expenditure has been incurred. In the whole of last year, ABI says that they saw North American operators allocating $92.3 of capital expenditure per subscription on average.

The other regions of the world will likely experience their peaks in a few years time. One deciding factor is how efficient governments are at releasing 4G wireless spectrum -- which usually comes with aggressive roll-out obligations.

"Many major emerging markets will sell off LTE spectrum in the near future, including Brazil and Mexico," adds Jake Saunders, VP and practice director at ABI Research.

Next year, the progress on the transition from analogue to digital television in Africa will be an opportunity to observe. If the participating countries can all stick to the schedule, Africa could well see major investment activities in around two to three years time as the digital dividend spectrum becomes available.

That being said, if North America is any indication of what may happen in other markets across the globe, then mobile service provider marketing leaders need to become more creative in how they go to market. Today's mobile network subscribers have very few reasons to stay with their current provider.