The plethora of spectrum bands used for LTE (Long-Term Evolution) will result in more expensive devices, and also make the ability to roam globally using the technology less likely, according to the Wireless Intelligence, the research arm of the industry group GSM Association.
Wireless Intelligence predicts there will be 38 different spectrum frequency combinations used in LTE deployments by 2015, thanks to ongoing spectrum auctions, license renewals and reallocation initiatives across a wide range of frequency bands, it said on Friday in a new report entitled “Global LTE Network Forecasts and Assumptions — One Year On.”
The number of combinations means economies of scale won’t be as good and prices won’t come down as much as they could if fewer spectrum bands were used as volumes increase, Gillet said.
Today, an LTE-equipped smartphone costs about twice as much as a 3G-based device, which means operators have to heavily subsidize them to drive the market. But that isn’t possible for operators to do in all parts of the world, because the average revenue per user is much lower than in, for example, the U.S.
Spectrum fragmentation also makes it more complicated and expensive to manufacture smartphones that can connect to the Internet using LTE all over the world.
Not everyone agrees that spectrum fragmentation is the biggest problem facing the rollout of LTE. The ongoing development of more advanced chipsets will bridge the problems created by fragmentation, according to Bengt Nordstrm, co-founder and CEO of market research company Northstream.
There will be more than 200 live LTE networks in over 70 countries by 2015, up from 40 networks in 24 countries today, according to the Wireless Intelligence report.