As LTE-Advanced Pro deployments gain momentum across the world, the technology, presented as a successor to current LTE-Advanced networks, is the stepping stone to 5G for mobile operators. LTE-Advanced Pro is available in different flavors and covers an extensive range of use cases. ABI Research forecasts global subscribers for high-speed data throughput will exceed 641 million in 2021, with 87% stemming from Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.
“LTE-Advanced Pro continues to bring substantial enhancements to the wireless network,” says Lian Jye Su, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. “Gigabit Class LTE, one of the high-speed downlink throughputs of LTE-Advanced Pro, changes the way mobile users interact with their devices. End users can now access cloud-based applications and stream 2K and 4K videos on the go. And operators can also benefit through better network utilization.”
To reach downlink speeds from 450Mbps and up to 1.2Gbps, high-speed LTE-Advanced Pro hinges on several technology enhancements: 3-component-carrier aggregation and above, 4x4 MIMO antenna, and 256 QAM and 16 QAM in downlink and uplink, respectively. Through its enablement of quick user access, it frees up valuable network resources and optimizes spectral efficiency of the mobile network.
ABI Research estimates the global total subscribers for LTE-Advanced Pro high-speed downlink to be 16.5 million, as of the end of 2016. There are approximately 120 LTE-Advanced Pro trials or commercial deployments. Australia’s Telstra launched its Gigabit Class LTE service in January 2017. Other notable deployments include AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile in the U.S., NTT DoCoMo in Japan, and SK Telecom in South Korea. Although current smartphones do not yet support Gigabit LTE speed, ABI Research expects mass device production to occur later this year, as evident through the early flagship Gigabit LTE smartphone announcements from several established OEMs at Mobile World Congress 2017.
“LTE-Advanced Pro gives mobile network operators a CAPEX friendly option to continue upgrading their networks,” concludes Jake Saunders, Vice President at ABI Research. “5G may be still out of the reach for many operators, but through incremental investment, LTE-Advanced Pro guarantees features that will generate new business cases for operators and better user experience for end users, all while preparing operators for 5G deployment down the road.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s LTE-Advanced Pro/4.5G: Bridging the Gap to 5G report.