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4G LTE networks launched by nearly 500 operators in over 100 countries

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Almost 500 operators have committed to launching 4G LTE, with next generation services now live in more than 100 countries for the first time.

New research from the Global Mobile Supplier Association revealed 288 LTE networks have been commercially launched in 104 countries by 497 operators, up from 263 launches in 97 countries in January this year.

The association estimated there were 240 million LTE subscribers by the end of the first quarter of 2014.

The proportion of operators using 1800MHz, the most popular band for 4G, has decreased slightly from 44 percent in Q4 2013 to 43 percent in Q1. In total, 124 operators launched LTE on this band across 64 countries.

The next most popular band was 2.6GHz, which was used in 26.7 percent of commercial LTE deployments, followed by 13.5 percent of networks who used the 800MHz band. AWS was used in 8.3 percent of networks.

The association added that one in every eight commercially launched LTE networks use the TDD mode and demand for the technology is growing.

In total, 252 have commercially launched LTE using FDD only, 23 operators are using only TDD and 13 are deploying both TDD and FDD modes.

Alan Hadden, President of GSA, said: "108 LTE networks have been launched in the past year, coverage is rapidly expanding, and LTE subscriptions growth is impressive. More operators are preparing to introduce voice service for their LTE customers with VoLTE, and investments in LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation technology is now the main trend."