MWC 2012: TD-LTE gets boost from China Mobile plans

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BARCELONA, Spain – The move towards the TDD version of LTE gained serious steam last week when during the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, Spain, China Mobile President Li Yue laid out plans for the world’s largest operator to deploy more than 20,000 TD-LTE equipped base stations by the end of the year. Yue added that the carrier would then move to 200,000 such cell sites by the end of 2013.

China Mobile announced last year that it would begin trialing TD-LTE services in cooperation with Ericsson, Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson.

During a keynote address, Yue explained that the carrier would have TD-LTE trials running in nine cities by the end of 2012, and that the network would be commercially ready in Shenzhen and Hangzhou by the end of the year.

“By publicly staking out its play to have more than 20,000 TD-LTE base stations operational by the end of the year, with 200,000 by 2013, China Mobile sends a synchronization pulse through the TD-LTE ecosystem,” explained Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst at Yankee Group, in a research report. “With a commitment of this scale locked to a specific time table, device vendors can now commit investments into LTE device development with good expectation of return. If China Mobile and its suppliers execute effectively, 2013 will be a signature year for TD-LTE technology and the surrounding device and service ecosystem.”

Unlike the more traditional FDD version of the LTE standard currently being rolled out by carriers, the TDD version uses chunks of spectrum for uplink and downlink transmissions instead of separate spectrum bands. This is designed to help those carriers with large swaths of unpaired spectrum assets to deploy mobile broadband serviced based on a global standard.

Domestically, Clearwire is also in the midst of rolling out TD-LTE services as part of its network overhaul program. The carrier has been trialing the TD-LTE standard in parts of Phoenix since late 2010, with reports of network download speeds in excess of 90 megabits per second when using a total of 40 megahertz of spectrum.

The two companies announced earlier this year plans to deepen their current cooperation on the standard, agreeing to an initiative for common test specifications and joint interoperability testing for the technology across global band configurations, including the 2.3 GHz to 2.7 GHz bands. Clearwire said it plans to conduct its TD-LTE testing in Phoenix and Herndon, Va., with China Mobile’s testing to be carried out in Beijing and other TD-LTE trial markets.

VelaTel Global has also announced plans to deploy a TD-LTE network in China through a partnership with China-based Next Generation Special Network Communications Technology.

Nokia Siemens Networks recently touted the efficiencies inherent in the TD-LTE standard compared with the V-DSL standard for mobile broadband services in Brazil.

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Dan Meyer

Editor-in-Chief, Telecom Software, Policy, Wireless Carriers
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Dan Meyer started at RCR Wireless News in 1999 covering wireless carriers and wireless technologies. As editor-in-chief, Dan oversees editorial direction, reports on news from the wireless industry, including telecom software, policy and wireless carriers, and provides opinion stories on topics of concern to the market such as his popular Friday column “Worst of the Week.”

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