The LTE trial and test phase is white hot.
Driven by the increase in demand cause by fixed-rate data plans coupled with the popularity of the iPhone and other advanced devices, the pace of testing of one of the two flavors of 4G technology, Long Term Evolution (LTE), is accelerating.
LTE is particularly active on the international front. ABI Research says that as of the end of September, 100 mobile networks were holding trials or were set to start. More than 40 of the trials are ongoing in the Asia-Pacific region-led by Japan and South Korea, with 33 contracts awarded. ABI Research says that though the first networks won't start commercial operation until the end of next year, a robust 32.6 million subscribers will be served by LTE by 2013. The pressure is so great that many operators are taking the interim step of upgrading 3G networks to High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) status.
A snapshot of the ongoing trials shows how active the landscape is. For instance, Telecom Italia is conducting trials in conjunction with Huawei in Turin, Italy. Singtel is planning trials in Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. China Mobile said that it established a trial at the Shanghai World Expo Park and will launch what it says is the first Time Division Duplex (TD-LTE) trial next year, while Motorola claimed that it is the first vendor to complete and pass TD-LTE testing with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
That's not all. This VON story says Nokia Siemens Networks and Telefonica are set for a six-month trial in the Czech Republic, and Huawei has been selected to integrate three different types of networks-GSM, HSPA and LTE, when it arrives-for Belgaom. Siemens Networks and LG Electronics have finished what Telecoms Korea says is the first end-to-end interoperability test in the 2100 MHz frequency band. The test used Nokia Siemens LTE equipment and LG's LTE USB data card.
There certainly are more tests and trials ongoing or soon to launch. The significant head start of WiMax, the other 4G platform, clearly hasn't stopped an almost frenetic level of activity from the LTE camp. This, of course, is good news for vendors, service providers and customers across the board.