While the number of LTE networks around the world is steadily on the rise, improvements in LTE-based download speeds have been relatively unmoved; for example, the global average speed of 13.5Mbps in the fourth quarter of 2015 rose by only 3.1Mbps from three years ago based on surveys by UK-based OpenSignal, according to Digitimes Research.
There were 494 LTE networks around the world at the end of the first quarter of 2016, including 128 LTE-Advanced networks, Digitimes Research indicated. LTE-Advanced networks accounted only 25.9% of LTE networks, which is a reason for slow improvement in global average download speed.
While 81.3% of the LTE-Advanced networks supported LTE UE (user equipment) Cat (Category) 6, 9, 11 and 12, 2,159 (88.9%) of 2,429 LTE-Advanced-enabled terminal devices available than supported only LTE UE Cat 4, mainly accounting for the slow increase in global average download speeds.
3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) in October 2015 formally released LTE-Advanced Pro, an upgrade in the technological standard from LTE-Advanced featuring use of higher frequency band units and carrier aggregation of unlicensed frequency band units. In terms of evolution of technological standards, LTE-Advanced Pro is between 4G and pre-5G or 5G.
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