4G coming into its own as VoLTE, LTE-A snowball

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LTE is finally beginning to live up to its potential as momentum picks up around carrier aggregation and HD calling, new findings have revealed.

New research from Infonetics and the GSA said despite the current clamour surrounding 5G and what it is or is not, “true 4G” is only now beginning to materialise.

Infonetics reported that services such as VoLTE are gaining traction following launches by a number of telcos in recent months. 

Meanwhile, LTE-A deployments are also ramping up, with half of 22 operators quizzed by the research firm claiming to have deployed LTE-Advanced in their networks.

[Read more: Swisscom launches VoLTE, VoWi-Fi to arrive this summer]

Stéphane Téral, Research Director for Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics at IHS, said: “The 5G debate has started with great fanfare, hype and confusion, but little substance about what it is exactly and what it is not.

“We are slowly but surely moving to true 4G, and that's good news. Most users already believe they are on 4G, and that's the bad news because the experience is far from consistent and is falling short of expectations. How many times does your smartphone display LTE or 4G and you still see the infamous spinning wheel?"

According to a separate report from the GSA, 422 LTE networks have now been deployed across 143 countries, 106 of which have launched commercially within the last year.

It said 677 operators are investing in LTE across 181 countries, amounting to 638 “firm network deployment commitments” in 176 countries. Thirty-nine pre-commitment trials are due in a further five, the industry body found.

Meanwhile, 88 carriers have commercially launched LTE-A in 45 countries with thirty percent of operators now investing in the technology.

LTE TDD and VoLTE deployments also continue to advance, the GSA revealed.

For example, 25 operators in 16 countries have commercially launched VoLTE-based HD voice services, the report found, while 103 operators in 49 countries are investing in deployments, trials or studies.

Telefónica Germany began pushing its HD voice service to customers in April.

In the UK, Three, Vodafone and EE all plan to launch Voice over LTE in the coming months.