The 4G ecosystem continues its rapid evolution. The first sign of the much-debated shift in operator loyalties from WiMAX to TD-LTE may have already appeared. Russian operator Yota announced that it will cover its next 15 cities with LTE instead of WiMAX, and that it would cover Moscow and St. Petersburg with LTE by the end of 2011.

Many industry watchers assumed that Yota would deploy TD-LTE. However, Yota may have acquired additional spectrum to deploy FD-LTE instead.

ABI Research practice director Philip Solis comments: “If the speculation that Yota is considering FD-LTE deployment and that it will continue running its WiMAX networks in the meantime is true, this shows Yota’s intent to use LTE for fully mobile applications with international roaming. That leaves open the question of WiMAX’s feasibility for fully mobile applications.”

With the potential 4G landscape in a state of flux, how is one to keep track of the approximately 1000 4G locations (and the equally large number of fixed 802.16d locations) scattered around the globe as they grow exponentially?

ABI Research has just released a new “4G Deployment Tracker” tool based on Google Earth, which displays location and other critical data for every network currently known. Each city hosting a deployment is shown by a color-coded push-pin indicating the type of 4G air interface.

Countries showing the greatest density of WiMAX deployments to date include the US, Mexico, Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Croatia, the Ukraine, Armenia, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Pakistan, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Even Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan rank among this top group.

“For a 4G device vendor or a base station upgrade supplier,” says Practice Director Philip Solis, “a quick visual guide to the best 4G market opportunities provides a valuable first step in building a marketing strategy.”

ABI Research’s “4G Deployment Tracker: City-by-City Interactive Google Earth Map” is part of the firm’s 4G Research Service, which also includes Research Reports, Research Briefs, Market Data, ABI Insights, ABI Vendor Matrices, and analyst inquiry support.