Hold the Phone, Verizon! LTE Not Ready for Prime Time Yet

Verizon Wireless has already started an ad blitz for its 4G LTE network, and the carrier has announced a press conference to announce exciting details about it on Wednesday. But not so fast. A new report from independent telecoms analyst Ovum shows that despite all of the hype surrounding LTE, HSPA will retain dominance in the mobile-broadband technology market for another five years.

The firm says HSPA connections will hit 1.87 billion by 2015 and grow at a compound annual growth rate of 46 percent.

With LTE grabbing so much attention it is easy to ignore the fact that HSPA is a firmly established technology with a mature infrastructure and device ecosystem,” said Julien Grivolas, Ovum principal analyst and author of the report. Its other advantage is that is has a natural upgrade path in the form of the enhanced HSPA+, which is being deployed in ever-greater volumes in 2010 and will keep getting better and better. Indeed, HSPA+ and its future enhancements could be sufficient for many operators needs for the next five years.

There is a huge amount of hype surrounding LTE and we expect it to really take off in 2012. However, HSPA will not go out of fashion and mobile operators are not about to turn their backs on it any time soon. The technology is continuing to evolve and operators will keep enhancing their networks for as long as it makes good economic sense.”

The report acknowledges that LTE will become the dominant technology in the future, but HSPA will not disappear and many operators are in no rush to migrate.

HSPA+ and its enhanced evolutions should not be viewed as competitors to LTE, but rather as complementary technologies,” Grivolas said.

Ultimately, the availability of spectrum is certainly an issue that will have a strong bearing on the commercial success of LTE, as its availability is fundamental to service launches. With that in mind, it may pay for operators to hang back and let others invest in the development of the ecosystem and make mistakes first.

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