Trade Resources Industry Views 64 Million LTE Category 9 and 10 Smartphones to Ship

64 Million LTE Category 9 and 10 Smartphones to Ship

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Category 9 or Category 10 LTE modems, which enable mobile broadband speeds in the downlink of up to 450Mbps, are expected to reach 64 million in 2019, according to ABI Research.

Recently, Qualcomm unveiled its Gobi 9x45, the first mobile modem to support these speeds. However, enabled smartphones are unlikely to hit the market before the third quarter of 2015 at the earliest. "During the same period last year, Qualcomm unveiled its Gobi 9x35 chip, a Category 6 modem with download speeds of up to 300Mbps. To date, this chip has only been embedded to selected versions of some commercially available smartphones targeted at Korea," said Malik Saadi, a practice director at ABI Research.

Category 10 modems are targeted at devices supporting at least three downlink (3DL) LTE Carrier Aggregation (CA) of up to 3x20MHz 3GPP-approved channel combinations across various LTE bands and modes. 3GPP has been busy defining various 3DL LTE CA in recent quarters. The number of 3GPP work items dedicated to various 3DL inter-band and intra-band LTE combinations has reached 57 in the second quarter of 2014, 34 of which are targeted at the North America market.

Due to the nature of spectrum licensing in the US, often based on 10MHz bandwidth chunks, 3DL LTE CA networks will be largely supported by Category 6 devices in the coming three years. "North America's consumers are unlikely to enjoy broadband speeds exceeding 300Mbps anytime in the near future, meaning that there are no immediate incentives for operators in this region to deploy devices with Category 10 modems unless they are offered at a similar price of those supporting Category 6," added Saadi.

In Europe, the LTE penetration is still below 14%, so operators in this region are focused on migrating subscribers to LTE rather than upgrading their networks to LTE-Advanced at a large scale, notably 3DL LTE CA.

Korea and China operators are likely to be the first to launch 3DL LTE CA networks enabling up to 450Mbps. Just in the last six months, China operators sponsored six new 3GPP work items targeted at 3DL LTE CA, the majority of which will support TDD-FDD inter-mode LTE CA.

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64 Million LTE Category 9 and 10 Smartphones to Ship in 2019, Says ABI Research