Puerto Rico, the unincorporated territory of the United States in the northeastern Caribbean, may become a pioneer in launching LTE networks. U.S.-based AT&T Inc. has said it will launch its LTE services in six new markets, including San Juan, Puerto Rico’s capital, on Nov. 20.
AT&T’s expansion will reaches 15 markets. The carrier is using HSPA+ and LTE technologies to provide customers 4G speeds. A total of about $20 billion in investments are planned in wireless and wireline networks this year.
Open Mobile is also eyeing LTE. The carrier hired Ericsson to supply, deploy and manage its nationwide LTE network. The commercial launch is expected mid-2012, and it is estimated that the company has invested about $130 million.
Open Mobile currently has a CDMA network and has been facing pressure to migrate. The contract includes radio access and core network with latest-generation multistandard radio base station, RBS 6000 series, MME and and mobile backhaul with MINI-LINK TN and MINI-LINK SP. The network rollout has already started.
Although there are some LTE launches examples, it may take a while until carriers invest heartily because the region still has a predominance of 2G network and a great forecast on 3G roadmap. “We see a high activity in LTE deployment. There’s a lot interest of carriers to deploy it. So the question is not if, but when and how they are going to deploy,” said José Ayala, the head of government and industry relation at Ericsson.
The Caribbean is characterized by having many different nations, some very wealthy and others very poor. This has a direct effect on the telecommunication sector because countries address different levels of networks deployment, mobile subscribers and penetration. “The 2G is still dominant, and the 3G might take quite time before end users acquire new handsets enable for this network,” said Martin Roos, Ericsson vice president for the Caribbean.
On the other hand, Roos said, there is a tremendous momentum for 3G and even 4G implementation. “Caribbean operators are rolling out 3G and LTE and having a good acceptance for subscribers.”
Ericsson has deployed 32 LTE networks in 17 countries in four continents and is conducting more than 70 trials.