Demonstrating that the USA continues to be a hot-bed of next-generation mobile activity, two further mobile network operators have announced plans to launch commercial LTE networks within months.
US Cellular has announced that it plans to offer LTE services in the first quarter of 2012. Also, Leap Wireless has announced plans to launch an LTE test network by December 2011, and intends to deploy commercial LTE services that cover 25 million residents by the end of 2012.
Particularly exciting developments are announcements by AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel that both operators intend to introduce LTE-Advanced in 2013. Sprint Nextel intends to deploy LTE-Advanced technology using its 800MHz spectrum in the first half of 2013.
LTE-Advanced represents the future evolution of LTE (Long Term Evolution). LTE-Advanced was standardised by 3GPP in Release 10 and, compared with ‘standard’ LTE, supports:
- significantly wider bandwidths (up to 100MHz)
- more advanced smart antenna technology (MIMO).
The use of a 100MHz bandwidth potentially enables LTE-Advanced to deliver peak download rates of up to 1Gbps, although it is unlikely that operators will deploy LTE-Advance in such wide bandwidths, at least to begin with. I will be discussing LTE-Advance in more detail in my next post.