This is a guest post from Arne Schälicke, LTE Product Marketing, Nokia Siemens Networks on the growth of the LTE eco-system and the work that NSN is putting it to make it happen.
That fact that the annual LTE World Summit has recently established itself among the top events in the sector has really underlined the importance of LTE in our industry. It’s also a good opportunity to reflect about the LTE market development that we have seen over the recent years.
By April 2012 there were 64 commercially launched LTE networks, 70 per cent more than a year earlier. The last year has also seen the commercial launches of the first TD-LTE networks. The global adoption of both FDD LTE and TD-LTE is not a vision anymore, it’s a fact. Global scale fosters the development of the device ecosystem, which in turn drives subscriber figures. The LTE virtuous circle has accelerated.
The arrival of multiband/multimode USB dongles has enabled operators to migrate their mobile broadband large screen customers to LTE. Subscribers benefit from faster average throughputs and shorter latency times, while the operators can offload their 3G networks, apply new tariffs and hence optimise their ARPU.
For all the aforementioned reasons, LTE data services have started to expand from the premium high-price segment to mid- and entry-level segments, with some operators having already introduced prepaid packages. Also, some international data roaming packages have been introduced, e.g. by TeliaSonera, who launched commercial LTE services more than three years and now provides LTE in many Northern European and Baltic countries.
The launch of LTE smartphones and tablets has since then accelerated subscriber growth tremendously. The publicly available data from NTT DoCoMo, Japan, shows an acceleration of roughly 300 per cent in monthly subscriber uptake following the introduction of LTE smartphones and tablets in autumn 2011. By April 2012, three operators in the US, Japan and Korea had reported more than two million LTE subscribers. LG U+ in Korea has reached an LTE penetration of more than 20 per cent of its total subscriber base.
In short, in 2012 LTE is becoming mass market.
What does the market success of LTE mean for Nokia Siemens Networks? As specialist in mobile broadband, we have been at the forefront of the LTE and TD-LTE commercialisation since the very beginning. Through our partnerships with the leading LTE operators in advanced markets like Northern Europe, Japan and Korea, we have continuously evolved our commercial LTE network systems to deliver superior throughput and lowest latency times in networks.
With a TD-LTE end-to-end solution, including the complete network infrastructure, services and TD-LTE data devices, we have enabled SKY, the largest satellite pay-TV operator in Brazil, to not only enter the local wireless broadband market, but to also be the first to launch commercial 4G services in Latin America. For operators with existing 1800MHz GSM networks we have commercially introduced concurrent operation of GSM and LTE on the same base station hardware module. Telia Denmark uses our concurrent-mode GSM/LTE technology nationwide and has repeatedly been praised for having the best 4G network in the country.
As the LTE market evolves further so are the LTE offerings of Nokia Siemens Networks. Pushing speeds ever higher we have demonstrated LTE-Advanced with data rates exceeding 1.4Gbps using aggregated spectrum of 100MHz on the commercial Flexi Multiradio 10 base station platform.
With increasing LTE smartphone penetration rates and growing LTE network coverage 2012 is also a significant year of VoLTE, with operators like LG U+, Korea, having already announced their VoLTE plans for this year.
And then, as the LTE World Summit 2012 agenda underlines nicely, small cells will play a key role in complementing macro networks to bring better coverage and capacity boost to areas of high demands. Clusters of small cells can provide the capacity needed in mobile broadband network hot zones. With our highly acclaimed Flexi Zone small cell solution, we are proposing a revolutionary new small cell cluster architecture that ensures small cell capacity really adds to the macro network and does not “tax” the operator’s TCO.