Data rates have helped LTE-A gain prominence in the global communications market. While LTE's peak downlink speed is 300 Mbits/s, LTE-A is theoretically capable of reaching 1 Gbit/s. LTE's highest rates are 75 Mbits/s while LTE-A clocks 500 Mbit/s.
The introduction of LTE and LTE-A-compatible mobile phones has generated competition among mobile manufacturers. Consequently, attaining data rates that meet LTE standards is a key to success for SPs (service providers) and NEMs (network element managers). Competition among leading equipment suppliers to develop efficient RANS (radio access networks), cell site implementation, and LTE base-station products also drives LTE network deployment.
More than 330 global networks deployed 4G LTE in the first half of 2014. The second quarter of 2014 saw almost 60 LTE-A trials, commitments, and commercial deployments. Most of these came from Western Europe, followed by Asia-Pacific and North America.
The transition from LTE networks to LTE-A is most visible in North America and Asia-Pacific, followed by Western Europe. According to Frost & Sullivan, by the end of January 2015, the number of LTE subscribers is expected to exceed 400 million while LTE-A will reach an estimated 22 million subscribers. Further, the analysis predicts that SPs will deploy over 43 LTE-A networks by the end of the year.