GSA May Update: Gigabit LTE – Global Status

Editor’s Note:

Gigabit LTE will be the backbone of support for (3GPP Release 15) 5G NR-NSA as it’s used for signaling, evolved packet core (EPC), and network management.  5G with low latency, signaling and a 5G mobile packet core won’t be deployed in mass till IMT 2020 standard has been completed.


  • At the end of February 2019, GSA has identified 101 operators in 60 countries or territories investing in all the three core LTE-Advanced features for Gigabit LTE (defined as Carrier Aggregation, 4×4 MIMO or higher, and 256 QAM modulation in the downlink)
  • 53 operators have deployed all three of these technologies and / or launched commercial services based on them
  • 313 operators in 133 countries are investing in at least one of the key technologies


Gigabit LTE does not always equal Gigabit speed. Some networks capable of delivering 1 Gbps downstream do so without using all three key LTE-Advanced (AKA IMT Advanced in ITU-R) features; some networks using all three features do not achieve 1 Gbps

The fastest networks in the GSA database are:

  • KDDI, SK Telecom, Swisscom, Telus, Turkcell:  1.2 Gbps
  • KT: 1.167 Gbps(achieved using MPTCP to combine LTE with 3CA and WiFi)
  • China Unicom:  1.156 Gbps
  • Bell Mobility:  1.15 Gbps
  • 3 Hong Kong, Singtel:  1.1 Gbps
  • Optus: 1.03 Gbps
  • Vodafone Italy:  1.023 Gbps
  • AT&T Mobility, China Mobile Hong Kong, CYTA, Dialog Axiata, DNA, Elisa, HKT, Inwi(Wana), O2 Czech Republic, Ooredoo Qatar, Smartone, Sprint, StarHub, Telenor Denmark, TeliaSonera Denmark, Telstra, Vodafone Germany, Vodafone Ziggo: 1 Gbps

This data is taken from Gigabit LTE Networks: Analysis of Deployments Worldwide (May 2019) published by GSA and available from



  • 8 LAA (License Assisted Spectrum) [1] deployments/launches:
  • AT&T (US), T-Mobile (US), AIS (Thailand), MTS (Russia), Smartone(Hong Kong), TIM (Italy), Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey (deployed)
  • 28 LAA trials and deployments in progress in 18 countries
  • The latest include MOTIV and Vimpelcomin Russia, and 3 Indonesia
  • 1 eLAAtrial (SK Telecom)
  • 3 LTE-U network deployments/launches
  • T-Mobile (US) – though it is now switching focus to LAA, AIS (Thailand), Vodacom (South Africa)
  • 8 LTE-U trials or pilots in progress
  • 1 LWA launch …
  • Chunghwa Taiwan and 2 others are trialing the technology (in Singapore and South Korea)
  • 1 commercial launch of a private LTE network using CBRS
  • 16 operators investing in CBRS trials in the US
  • The latest are Altice, CDE Lightband, CoxCommnications, Extenet, Mobilitieand Windstream
  • 21 commercially available modem/platform chipsets supporting unlicensed access
  • 133 devices announced supporting LTE in unlicensed spectrum or shared spectrum using CBRS (including regional variants)

Note 1.  A variant of LTE-Unlicensed is Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and has been standardized by the 3GPP in Rel-13. LAA adheres to the requirements of the LBT protocol, which is mandated in Europe and Japan. It promises to provide a unified global framework that complies with the regulatory requirements in the different regions of the world.

  • 3GPP Rel-13 defines LAA only for the downlink (DL).
  • 3GPP Rel-14 defines enhanced-Licensed Assisted Access (eLAA), which includes uplink (UL) operation in the unlicensed channel.
  • 3GPP Rel-15 The technology continued to be developed in 3GPP’s release 15 under the title Further Enhanced LAA (feLAA).

LTE Fast Facts are taken from the GSA report “LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum: Trials, Deployments and Devices April 2019”available from

GSA reports are compiled from data stored in the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices/Data (GAMBoD) database.

One thought on “GSA May Update: Gigabit LTE – Global Status

  1. 1. 5G Snapshot – 5G Spectrum News Digest – May 2019

    Important changes since the last 5G Snapshot include:

    Albania: 800 MHz tender completed.
    Belgium: consultation launched on the use of 26 GHz for 5G.
    Canada: auction of spectrum at 600 MHz completed.
    Colombia: call for interest in auction of spectrum at 700, 1900 and 2600 MHz for terrestrial mobile services.
    Czechia: 700 MHz and 3500 MHz auctions scheduled for 2019.
    Greece: 5G test licences issued, full licence awards expected late in 2019. 800/2600 MHz auction bidders named.
    Indonesia: updated spectrum roadmap.
    Japan: award of 5G spectrum bands.
    Kosovo: consultation on spectrum at 800, 900, and 1800 MHz.
    Lithuania: update on spectrum consultations
    Luxembourg: update on spectrum consultations
    Malaysia: updated information on spectrum bands under consideration.
    Netherlands: ACM issues final recommendations to government for auctions of 700, 1400, 2100 and 3500 MHz.
    Mexico: identifies nine bands as potentially suitable for 5G.
    Norway: Offshore spectrum auction completed.
    Singapore: new consultation on policy and regulatory framework for 5G rollout.
    Ukraine: possible 5G spectrum auction dates.
    USA: Clock phase bidding closes on 24 GHz auction, rules for bidding on spectrum in the 37, 39, and 47 GHz ranges published, update on CBRS auction timelines.
    Vietnam: updated information on spectrum bands being considered.

    At present, GSA is aware of 59 countries in the world that are either formally considering introducing certain spectrum bands for terrestrial 5G services, holding consultations regarding suitable spectrum allocations for 5G, have reserved spectrum for 5G, have announced plans to auction frequencies or have already allocated spectrum for 5G use. (Note: all references to 5 countries in this document can be read as also including territories, special administrative regions, disputed territories and dependencies.) This figure includes countries examining/allocating spectrum on a technology-neutral basis with 5G in mind, but excludes countries undertaking such initiatives in relation to spectrum that is being allocated primarily for the provision of 3G or 4G services. Some countries have multiple initiatives underway.

    2. GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) Membership is open to all companies and individuals that supply products or services to the global mobile industry. GSA membership categories can include, but are not limited to, network vendors, semiconductor suppliers, test equipment manufacturers, application developers, device manufacturers, companies providing support services and mobile consultants. Membership terms are for a minimum of one year and commence on receipt of the membership subscription fee.

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