Worldwide LTE coverage is still patchy in spots, but overall deployments are progressing quickly

LTE is growing fast in more ways than one, according to a recent report from OpenSignal, as some operators have pushed the upper boundaries of LTE speed, and coverage continues to expand to the point that in several countries 4G networks are now ubiquitous.

And for its part, Canada is doing well.

The pace of progress, however, is occurring at different rates in different parts of the world. The 4G infrastructure of the U.S. and Japan is the vastest, but not the fastest: their speeds don’t meet those offered by other operators around the world. Meanwhile, smaller countries such as New Zealand and Romania have built 4G networks of “breathtaking quickness,” the report said, but with limited availability.

Overall, the report revealed there is no question that LTE is progressing, and that even over the past few months, LTE coverage speeds are continuing to improve after five consecutive years of 4G deployments. OpenSignal found that South Korea and Singapore have set themselves apart from the main body of global operators, providing both superior coverage and speed. Canada also fares well along with Hungary and the Netherlands with overall LTE coverage.

According to OpenSignal, countries such as Singapore, South Korea, Denmark, Hungary and Australia are allocating resources into their networks and adding capacity by deploying LTE on new frequency bands while bonding those disparate bands together with new LTE-Advanced technologies. This has not only led to more capacity, but also an increase in peak speeds as users get access to more of a network’s overall bandwidth.

OpenSignal collects its data from millions of smartphone owners through its apps and uses the crowdsourced data to build coverage maps as well as analytical reports. The latest report drew data between October and December 2015 from hundreds of thousands of OpenSignal users that have LTE-capable phones and connect to operators with live 4G networks.

In Canada, Telus has said its LTE network now covers 95 per cent of the Canadian population as of late last year, a 10 per cent increase from the same period a year before. Rogers was the first Canadian carrier to launch LTE-Advanced wireless service to double download speeds more than a year ago. Bell kicked up its LTE speeds in August of last year, while Videotron launched its initial LTE foray a month later. Late last year, Wind Mobile Corp. named Nokia Networks as its sole network infrastructure provider to deliver LTE technology to its Canadian users.

While LTE connectivity is generally associated with smartphone and providing consumers with a fast, data rich user experience, LTE networks do have potential to support enterprise applications. According to 451 Research, LTE’s worldwide footprint has grown to 422 networks in 143 countries, a footprint that can become a platform for innovation and growth in applications such as cloud computing, mobility in the workforce, and the Internet of Things.

There are actually dozens of ways LTE can be incorporated into an enterprise network; to date, most have used it as bandwidth on-demand. Next-generation WANs are incorporating high-speed LTE from multiple carriers as a parallel network that can be privately managed and segmented. Parallel networks that leverage LTE, rather than MPLS or Internet, might make sense for organizations that have specific types of devices that don’t need to be on the primary network.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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