G&D | An LTE Journey Around the World

An LTE Journey
Around the


Telecom Team

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From zero to 80 in four years

While 2008 was still a year of field tests, in Sweden and Norway the first LTE network in the world went into commercial operation at the end of 2009*. In 2010, the USA, Hong Kong, Japan, and a couple of other countries followed their lead. Since then, LTE has spread so rapidly that there are now over 80 LTE networks worldwide. In the second quarter of 2012 alone, 20 new 4G networks were built, exceeding the 3G total for the first time. So it is a good time for a brief overview of the international distribution of LTE technology (as at Q3 2012).

Adoption of LTE Around the World

Here you can see an interactive map which shows the adoption of LTE networks around the world. Switch between the years 2009 and 2012 using the horizontal slider. The controls on the right of the map allow you to zoom in for a closer look.

Open the world map


Africa is the fastest-growing mobile network region in the world. The number of 3G users alone is increasing every year by around 40 percent. There are significantly fewer fast mobile network connections than in North America or Europe. However, the first LTE network has already been built. With the exception of Nigeria, the new mobile network standard is available in smaller markets like Angola, Mauritius, Namibia, and Tanzania. Larger countries such as Egypt and South Africa have not yet progressed so far with implementing LTE.


From Azerbaijan through the United Arab Emirates, to India and China: LTE has also arrived in Asia. Similar to many other countries, the network operators are first concentrating on the megacities, as these have the greatest need for fast data connections. In India, for instance, LTE is available in Mumbai, Calcutta, and New Delhi. According to many observers, South Korea has taken the lead in Asia when it comes to LTE. The country has considerably more than half a million LTE customers and the first LTE network in the world that can also transfer speech: voice over LTE.


As in Asia, LTE development varies greatly from country to country in Europe. In terms of network coverage, Scandinavia is at the forefront, while in Germany, LTE is present in many cities as well as in rural regions with less developed infrastructure. In Fall 2012, the first LTE network went into operation in the UK at 1800 MHz. Other frequencies have not yet been allocated. But there is one aspect in which the UK could act as a role model: two British network operators are planning to develop their network through close collaboration within a joint venture, reducing infrastructure costs.

North America

North America is one of the world’s leading regions when it comes to LTE development. All four large US network operators have developed their own networks and some now reach almost 90 percent of the population. When it comes to supplying urban areas, the Canadian network operators are not far behind.

The future

Over 300 network operators in almost 100 countries have already expressed their intention to establish their own LTE networks. LTE will therefore be a dominant topic for network operators in the coming years.