Economic gloom does not appear to have dampened operator enthusiasm for LTE, with analysts forecasting more than $8.6bn to be spent on the technology over the next five years.

More than 18 operators worldwide have announced LTE deployment plans, with many looking at a 2011-2012 timeframe for rollout. However, US carrier Verizon Wireless has announced acceleration of its LTE plans, bringing the launch forward from 2010 to 2009.

ABI Research senior analyst Nadine Manjaro, said, “ABI Research believes that NTT will also deploy LTE in Japan in 2009. We forecast that by 2013 operators will spend over $8.6bn on LTE base station infrastructure alone. For operators that have already deployed 3G networks, LTE will be a key CAPEX driver over the next five years.”

ABI also believes that LTE application development will also drive investment as operators work to determine which services to deploy on this high speed, low latency network.

It’s known that Verizon is planning to provide third party access to its GPS data for example. “The resulting new applications will tie mobility and presence aspects together to create more compelling services than in the past,” said Manjaro. “This is significant because it represents the beginning of a new generation of application development which will leverage the vast amounts of data in operators’ networks.”