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LTE trials lead to wide-scale rollouts in 2011

According to ABI Research, 132 networks worldwide have reported trials or plans to launch long-term evolution (LTE) commercially. Both Verizon and Japan’s DoCoMo plan wide-scale rollouts by the end of this year.

Those numbers contrast with the number of networks still committed to the competing WiMAX technology: 188 WiMAX networks are in trial or commercial operation worldwide. In the United States, that includes Clearwire, which continues to build out its network and ride the wave of the popular WiMAX-capable handset, the HTC EVO 4G. Although Russia’s Yota switched from WiMAX to LTE, India’s recent wireless broadband spectrum auction will increase the number of WiMAX networks globally.

Meanwhile, Qualcomm and China are both promoting TD-LTE, which operates on the same bandwidth as existing WiMAX networks and might tempt WiMAX operators to switch to LTE. Upgrading the existing 3G network via HSPA+ is another strategy, not just for T-Mobile in the United States and Vodafone in Turkey, but also for 39 other network operators in trial or commercial launch.