LTE Frequency Spectrum Selection & Fragmentation

LTE can be deployed in existing 2G or 3G bands, and in new spectrum such as 2.6 GHz now being allocated in many regions, and the Digital Dividend bands (700 or 800 MHz depending on region). The spectrum segmentation for LTE can be a blessing and a curse. The positive aspects of this is that many different mobile MNOs can make do with whatever spectrum they have and re-farm it to have LTE, they can purchase spectrum in a different frequency that may not be crowded, giving them a lot of flexibility. This in turn can help many MNOs commit and decide to move towards LTE.

At the same time, the segmentation will have many different MNOs spread over different frequency divisions. Initially, this will delay the product economies of scale, while certain frequencies begin to ramp up in amount of base stations and devices being ordered for those bands. As this happens, prices go down, and MNOs in developing nations can start thinking on investing in LTE.

Larger, nationwide carriers that have interest in covering large extensive areas, as well as providing broadband services to rural regions, are likely to be interested in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz or 900 MHz frequencies. The propagation properties of these frequency bands permit reaching communities that couldn’t be reached previously, and MNOs interested in having an initial, larger coverage area, and later add capacity as demand grows, will use these frequencies as well. These frequencies require fewer base stations to provide the same population coverage than other higher frequency base stations. On the other hand, service providers looking to supply capacity in small dense urban or suburban areas will be interested in higher frequencies, such as 1.5 GHz and higher, since the physical properties of higher frequencies are shorter in range, but yield greater capacity than lower frequencies. Base stations will have to be closer and greater in number to provide higher capacity.

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Analysis of telecom and ICT infrastructure, technologies, and applications.
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