Frédéric Pujol, Head of the radio technologies & spectrum practice, IDATE

Frédéric PUJOL
Head of the radio technologies & spectrum practice, IDATE


LTE-Advanced will represent 30-40% of the total LTE subscriber base at the end of 2017

LTE networks in operation today mainly use LTE Release 8 of the 3GPP standard. LTE-Advanced (Release 10) brings many technological innovations which enable higher data rates on both the uplink and the downlink and deliver better performance at the cell edge:

  • LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) enables higher data rates: theoretically, 150 Mbps on the downlink and as high as 3 Gbps in the years ahead. An uplink maximum of 1.5 Gbps will be possible.
  • LTE-Advanced brings many enhancements to LTE networks. LTE operators can ‘pick and choose’ the functionalities such as carrier aggregation, enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC), HetNets and enhanced MIMO.
    • Carrier aggregation: a total up to 100 MHz bandwidth can be aggregated with a maximum of five component carriers. This will enable higher user peak throughput.
    • Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets): LTE-A enables operators to deploy low-power small-cells in addition to macrocells in the same channel.
    • Enhanced MIMO: up to eight multiplexed layers for downlink and up to four multiplexed layers for uplink.
    • Relay function.
    • Spectrum efficiency: 1.4 to 1.6 times better than on LTE Release 8.
  • LTE-Advanced compatible smartphones were launched in Q2 2013 by Samsung and LG.Apple is expected to follow in H2 2013 or early 2014.

The first LTE-Advanced networks were launched in early H2 2013 and the mass market for LTE-Advanced is expected to have taken shape by 2014-2015. USA, South Korea and Japan are currently the front runners regarding LTE-Advanced implementation. The leaders in LTE-Advanced deployment are South Korean operators, headed by SKT and LG U+. Actually SK Telecom places much emphasis on carrier aggregation but many other players in the industry indicate that higher-order MIMO and HetNets are also key elements in LTE Advanced.On 26 June 2013, SK Telecom, the pioneer in LTE-Advanced, launched its LTE-A services in parallel with the Samsung Galaxy S4 LTE-A enabled version. At the end of July 2013, SK Telecom reported 300,000 LTE-Advanced subscribers in South Korea, out of a total LTE base of 11 million.

Roadmap of LTE-Advanced implementations

LTE-Advanced implementations

Source: IDATE

The LTE-Advanced market will soon follow in opening in Japan and the USA. New markets will open in 2014 and mass adoption will start in 2015. We forecast that LTE-Advanced will represent 30-40% of the total LTE subscriber base at the end of 2017 and should reach a half-billion LTE-Advanced subscriptions worldwide.

This analysis is an excerpt of our LTE-Advanced Market Insight