Overseas telcos keen to deploy China's TD-LTE

Updated: 2011-01-12 10:03

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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Overseas telcos keen to deploy China's TD-LTE

A man leaves a China Mobile service hall in Beijing. China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless operator by subscribers, has deployed 15 TD-LTE trial networks in a number of countries. [Photo / Bloomberg]

China Mobile: Technology to be global mainstay for 4G networks

BEIJING - Some US operators including Sprint and Japan's Softbank Telecom plan to deploy TD-LTE networks, according to officials with China Mobile Communications Co, the parent company of China Mobile Ltd.

Sha Yuejia, executive vice-president of China Mobile Communications Co, said on Tuesday that TD-LTE, the next-generation telecommunication standard provided by China Mobile, is welcomed by global operators and will be a mainstream 4G technology across the world in the near future.

He said the fourth-largest carrier in the United States - whose name he did not reveal - has contacted China Mobile and shown interest in building up a TD-LTE network, indicating China's homegrown 4G technology may successfully breach a mature telecom market in North America.

Huang Xiaoqing, president of the research institute of China Mobile, said Sprint/Clearwire and Light Squared have announced they will adopt TD-LTE. The two companies were not immediately available for comment.

Though Polish mobile operator Aero2 announced last November that it would build the world's first commercial TD-LTE network early this year, Sha said it is "a relatively small one", compared with the upcoming projects launched by other telecom carriers.

Tina Tian, chief telecom analyst with Gartner's China office, said Sprint/Clearwire, the venture formed by Clearwire Co and Sprint Nextel Co in 2008, reached fourth place in the United States in 2009 and has been using WiMax, technology which can be easily upgraded to TD-LTE.

China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless operator by subscribers, previously said 15 TD-LTE trial networks have already been deployed in a number of countries. Another nine test networks, in cooperation with global telecom operators, will be added during 2011, according to the company.

TD-LTE, or the Time Division-Long Term Evolution, has been promoted by China Mobile since 2008. Its upgraded version, TD-LTE Advanced, was selected as one of six international 4G standards by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in October last year.

Foreign telecom giants such as Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent, as well as domestic companies such as Huawei, ZTE and Datang, have participated in technical trials of TD-LTE technology with China Mobile since the end of 2008.

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Under ideal conditions, TD-LTE can easily reach a download speed of more than 100 megabytes per second, much faster than third-generation (3G) TD-SCDMA technology.

China Mobile is pinning great hopes on the new technology, as the company intends to use it to grab market share both at home and overseas.

Its predecessor, TD-SCDMA, failed to achieve that goal because it was inferior to rival 3G technologies such as WCDMA in terms of maturity, and its use was limited to within China, according to analysts.

In addition to China Mobile, Reliance Industries (RIL) looks set to deploy TD-LTE services in 2011 in India, the world's second-largest mobile market after China, giving a major boost to TD-LTE's global ambitions.

Softbank Telecom in Japan is also interested in TD-LTE, and plans to use it to upgrade the services of Willcom Inc - a company Softbank purchased last year, according to Communications World Weekly.

TD-LTE services could also be launched in Malaysia, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, said Nicole McCormick, Ovum's senior analyst, in a recent report.

"But commercialization of TD-LTE in China depends on when licenses for 4G spectrums are issued, and the Chinese government has not indicated when this will occur," said McCormick.

Sha with China Mobile said the commercial phase of TD-LTE in China is likely to start as early as 2012, as the country has launched the large-scale tests of the technology in six major Chinese cities this year.


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