4G LTE competition shifts from coverage to higher data speeds, more capacity

4G LTE competition among mobile operators is moving from expanding coverage to providing higher data speeds and increased capacity, judges Strategy Analytics.

To get higher speeds and greater capacity, operators are refarming the existing 4G LTE spectrum as well as using new frequency bands for current and future growth, notes the market research firm.

"Sprint's Spark program is the latest proof that LTE TDD [time division duplex] offers an efficient solution for mobile operators to increase their broadband capacity using higher frequency bands, while refarming lower frequencies with LTE FDD [frequency division duplex] to provide good coverage and spectral efficiency," says Guang Yang, Senior Analyst for Strategy Analytics.

"Hybrid LTE FDD and TDD networks deployed in multiple frequency bands can help operators rapidly achieve a good balance between network coverage and capacity. For operators with more limited access to paired spectrum, TDD provides a good option to deploy 4G LTE while still leveraging common LTE networking equipment and devices, as long as deployment bands are globally or at least regionally harmonized," Yang adds.

The unified 3GPP LTE standard provides "significant technical commonality and a good foundation for commercial harmonization between both modes, but the ecosystem for LTE TDD does not yet quite match its FDD counterpart. The industry needs to pursue commercial products and solutions that support both TDD and FDD to achieve global scale economies," adds Sue Rudd, director of service provider analysis at Strategy Analytics.

The market research firm recommends that operators "seize the opportunity" presented by the 3GPP LTE standard "to create a harmonized ecosystem, supporting both LTE FDD and TDD products and solutions."

The 3GPP standard will also enable the Internet of Things, observes wireless industry association 4G Americas. "Innovations in 3GPP network architecture have been carefully planned to maximize capacity, efficiency and the user experience at the dawn of the age of the Internet of Things," comments Vicki Livingston, co-leader of the 4G Americas working group that produced a white paper on 4G mobile broadband evolution (.pdf.)

For more:
- see the Strategy Analytics release
- check out the 4G Americas white paper

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