LTE-A smartphones proliferate as operators turn on more networks

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The number of LTE-A enabled smartphones continues to rise as more operators enable carrier aggregation on their networks, Strategy Analytics has found.

The research firm said an increase in the number of LTE-A networks has helped the chipset market by driving down the cost of building the electronics.

Shipments of CA-enabled devices have increased considerably in China in particular, Strategy Analytics found, where large-scale LTE-A rollouts are driving the adoption of compatible devices.

[Read more: Alcatel-Lucent named supplier for China Telecom's Phase Two LTE rollout]

A recent report from the Global mobile Suppliers Association revealed a total of 88 operators across 45 countries have already rolled out LTE-A networks and that 30 percent of global operators are investing in the technology.

[Read more: Operators turn to 2.1GHz to fuel demand for LTE-A]

However, Strategy Analytics added that most operators still did not own the spectrum assets that would allow them to take full advantage of carrier aggregation.

[Read more: GSMA calls for more European support ahead of crunch WRC]

Phil Kendall, Director of Wireless Operator Strategies, said: “More than 70 percent of operators do not yet have enough LTE spectrum available to support 40 MHz of aggregate bandwidth for 300 MHz peak downlink speed unless they use three separate LTE carriers in three distinct bands, and this can requires more expensive and complex mobile devices.

“However, this has started to change with re-farming of legacy GSM and 3G spectrum to LTE by operators, allowing more operators to adopt carrier aggregation.”