GSA, the (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that the number of commercially launched LTE networks has passed the 500 milestone, which was achieved during May 2016.

According to its latest research, 503 operators have commercially launched LTE networks in 167 countries.

LTE is the fastest developing mobile communications system technology ever. The historic milestone of 500 commercially launched LTE networks was reached in 77 months from first service launch, almost 5 years less than the time taken by 3G/WCDMA systems, and 6 months faster than HSPA systems.

GSA forecasts there will be at least 550 commercially launched LTE networks by end 2016.

Around 25% of LTE operators have launched LTE-Advanced systems.

Alan Hadden, VP of Research, GSA said: “Several LTE operators are now introducing LTE-Advanced Pro technologies, sometimes referred to as 4.5G, which is established as a major industry trend in 2016.

LTE-Advanced Pro systems can support peak downlink speeds up to 1 Gbps and beyond.”

The number of LTE and LTE-Advanced subscriptions reached 1.068 billion worldwide by end 2015. LTE continues to grow faster than any other mobile communications system technology and is already responsible for 1 in 7 mobile subscriptions worldwide. Data for Q1 2016 LTE subscriptions will be published by GSA in the next few days.