It is axiomatic that technology doesn’t rest. Wave upon wave of innovations and advancements continually wash over the shores of their technological predecessors. The surest sign that change is pending? The world is just getting accustomed to the current latest and greatest. So goes the mass rollout of LTE.
The striking thing about numbers released this week by ABI Research is how quickly LTE deployments have moved. The firm says that it is tracking 470 commitments worldwide. It says that 193 are commercialized and, during the next two years, an additional 123 will fire up. By 2018, population coverage of 4.2 billion people—that is 57 percent of the world’s population–will be covered.
The next phase of the 4G technology is LTE Advanced. At the British site 3G, Kevin Thomas provided a short description. The speed increase is enabled by adding antennas and enlarging the broadcast frequency used in a transmission. The result is a significantly speedier experience:
The LTE-Advanced 4G network has just been launched in South Korea, where the provider, SK Telecom, says it allows users to download files at 150Mbps. To put that into perspective, the most optimistic speed for 4G is 100Mbps, although those speeds have not been achieved in the UK as yet.
The 4G LTE Advanced march may be set to start in earnest. The Full Signal and other sites speculate that AT&T could announce its LTE Advanced plans on July 16. The carrier has been teasing about that possibility by using the tag line “What’s next in wireless” when alluding to an announcement on that date. It’s worth noting that there are even more vague rumors that Apple may be planning a version of the iPhone 5S with LTE Advanced.
Regardless of what AT&T and Apple announce, LTE Advanced may find a tempered, or even tepid, response, according to Computerworld. Matt Hamblen writes that LTE networks need to be upgraded to support LTE Advanced, but this may not be at the top of carriers’ agendas as they have only hinted at such upgrades. He points out that touting speed gains for the new version of LTE is unlikely to excite consumers as much as the move from 3G to LTE, since that still is fresh in their minds. And, folks would need to upgrade their phones to take advantage of the new version of LTE, something many may be reluctant to do.
LTE now is even available on Mount Everest. That’s impressive. It’s also impressive that the technology is evolving so quickly. Whether there is a market for the new version of LTE so soon after the technology’s birth is an interesting question.