China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the carrier, handset and component makers, and handset solution suppliers in China in late 2008 began to cooperate for the development of TD-LTE in three phases, the report said.
The first-phase trial of technological concepts completed in June 2009, and the ongoing R&D and experiments in the second phase will be finished at the end of June 2010, the report indicated, adding the third phase will begin with China Mobile setting up three trial networks in the third quarter.
The trial network consists of 17 outdoor TD-LTE base stations made by Huawei Technologies completely covering the 5.28km square site and will be used to provide mobile high-definition multimedia services.
ZTE and Datang Mobile Communications Equipment as well as Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent have also set up TD-LTE access points inside a number of pavilions.
These milestones follow the announcement by China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) in 2009, that Motorola was selected as main equipment supplier to provide indoor TD-LTE coverage for pavilions at Shanghai Expo. During the Shanghai Expo, Motorola will provide an advanced end-to-end TD-LTE solution and the world's first TD-LTE USB dongles. Motorola will also leverage its orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) expertise with professional services to deploy, maintain and optimize these leading-edge networks. Visitors will be able to experience applications such as high-definition video on demand, remote monitoring and high-speed Internet access services.
Motorola, a leading provider of TD-LTE technology, and China Mobile share the same commitment to accelerating TD-LTE commercialization and globalization. "We are very excited to support China Mobile in bringing the world's first TD-LTE USB dongle demonstration enabled by our TD-LTE system," said Dr. Mohammad Akhtar, corporate vice president and general manager, Motorola Networks business in Asia Pacific. "A healthy devices ecosystem has always been critical to the development, commercialization and success of wireless network technologies. We are working closely with partners to drive this ecosystem as demonstrated by the advancement announced today. TD-LTE is now a commercial reality and we are very pleased to see that industry players are joining forces to accelerate TD-LTE globalization."
Interest in TD-LTE continues to grow because of several key factors: the low cost of TDD spectrum that is particularly attractive to emerging and developing markets; operators' continuing need for more capacity and spectrum; and the ability to hand-off between TD-LTE and LTE FDD networks. In effect, this ability to roam between LTE FDD and TD-LTE means operators can use TD-LTE networks to augment their FDD LTE network for more capacity or other applications such as video broadcasting, while operators choosing to use TD-LTE as their "main" network can still offer their subscribers the ability to roam to other operators' FDD LTE networks in different countries. Motorola is one of the few vendors in the industry that has expertise in, and is committed to investing in both FDD-LTE and TD-LTE, as well as WiMAX. By leveraging its orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) expertise and WiMAX legacy, Motorola has built up its leadership position in TD-LTE with a number of industry-firsts.
"The development of terminals and devices has always been a bottleneck in the roll-out of new mobile technology," said Mr. Sha Yuejia, vice president of China Mobile. "We are thus more than happy to see that Nokia Siemens Networks has established a cutting-edge terminal testing environment, an initiative that we support wholeheartedly. After all, a healthy ecosystem needs efforts from all stakeholders."
Nokia Siemens Networks' Open Lab will provide an end-to-end testing environment for verifying the compatibility of terminals and devices with the company's TD-LTE network products and solutions. The lab will also provide consultancy and testing services to device manufacturers. Nokia Siemens Networks' TD-LTE R&D center in Hangzhou is fully integrated into the company's global network of LTE Centers of Competence.
Providing a live TD-LTE experience to operators in the region, Nokia Siemens Networks also recently kicked off a nationwide TD-LTE road show in China. Beginning in Beijing, the road show will cover more than ten provinces in three months, demonstrating the most advanced TD-LTE technology and applications.
US-based Qualcomm and Sweden's Ericcson aim to piggyback on TD-LTE, hoping that it will help them gain a toe-hold in India, the world's fastest growing mobile market. Qualcomm is to participate in the broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum auction. If it does secure its bid in the auction, India could well become the first country after China to roll out TD-LTE.
TD-LTE, or Time Division Long Term Evolution, caters to peak download speeds of 100 Mbps on mobile phones, compared to the 20 Mbps for 3G and 40 Mbps for Wimax. LTE brings to the table additional spectrum, more capacity, lower cost, and is essential to take mobile broadband to the mass market.
The government has slotted the sale of two 2.3 GHz blocks of spectrum on April 11, providing 20 MHz spectrum in each of the country's 22 telecom circles. The base price has been set at $ 385 million. However, Qualcomm will need an Indian partner for its TD-LTE foray in the country since foreign direct investment is limited to 74%.
The US telco aims to use the 2.3 GHz spectrum band offered for TD-LTE-based BWA services. Sources in the know told TOI that the company would bid aggressively to corner one of the two BWA slots up for sale. There are 11 bidders for the BWA auction.
Asked to comment on the market dynamics, Sandeep Ladda, executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), said: "Though the Indian market is huge, it won't be smooth sailing post auction. We are adding 1 crore customers a month and in January, we added 1.9 crore customers, but the implementation of the new technology has its own cost. And India is a very cost conscious market."
Eager to play by the rules in India, Qualcomm has notified that it would enter into a joint venture with an Indian partner to launch its services and later exit from the joint venture after the network becomes operable.
Recently, the forum launched a global initiative to accelerate advanced WiMAX features that would double peak data rates and increase average and cell edge end user performance by 50 percent.
Mo Shakouri, vice president with the WiMAX Forum, said enhancements to the current generation of WiMAX weren't on the forum's roadmap, but were brought to the forefront at the urging of several WiMAX operators already facing capacity crunches. The forum reports that the average usage of data on WiMAX networks is close to 10 GB. Clearwire recently reported that mobile users average more than 7 GB of usage per month. In Russia, mobile WiMAX operator Yota sees more than 1 GB per month in data traffic from subscribers using its HTC smartphone. For laptops, it's 13 GB per month.
"Demand for data is moving so fast that we were pushed by many people to add this functionality," Shakouri said.
The WiMAX Forum has also been prodded to announce more detailed plans for 802.16m, and step up the timeline for its development via a new group called the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative, which is made up of vendors Samsung, Alvarion, Motorola, ZTE, Sequans, Beceem, GCT Semiconductor and XRONet. The companies will work in tandem with the WiMAX Forum and WiMAX operators to accelerate the next-generation standard. WiMAX 2, the marketing name for the 802.16m standard, is expected to expand capacity to 300 Mbps peak rates via advances in antennas, channel stacking and frequency re-use.
The forum previously forecast 802.16m would hit in 2012 or 2013. But increasing demands for data--coupled with Qualcomm and Ericsson urging Indian mobile broadband license bidders to go with TD-LTE--motivated the forum to put some stakes in the ground and declare that WiMAX 2 equipment will meet certification by the end of 2011.
"There has been a lot of noise about TD-LTE, and the WiMAX Forum had not specifically given dates regarding timelines for 802.16m," Shakouri said. "Basically our announcement around 802.16m came about because of the noise in India."
The formation of the WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative is a marked change from the way the first generation of WiMAX was developed. Sprint Nextel was the entity driving the majority of the standards work as it was eager to get to market and begin building an ecosystem. Vendors are now taking the lead and driving equipment readiness before the 802.16m standard is finalized by the end of this year. Shakouri said the standard is 95 percent finished.
"Those companies are going to take a more active role inside the forum," Shakouri said. "They have all come together to speed up the process."
The group of vendors plans to collaborate on interoperability testing, performance benchmarking and application development before the WiMAX Forum establishes its certification program to narrow the gap between the finalized standard and commercial rollouts.
So how much of a threat is TD-LTE to WiMAX? Shakouri said the answer depends on spectrum decisions. "At this moment, the spectrum we are focusing on is separate, aside from what Qualcomm announced in India," Shakouri said. He also said that a TD-LTE ecosystem is at least two to three years behind WiMAX.
Many analysts speculate that TD-LTE will become the crossover technology that will prompt WiMAX operators to flip to LTE. Clearwire was part of a group of operators and vendors that last month asked the 3GPP standards body to begin working on specifications that would enable TD-LTE to be deployed in the 2.6 GHz band, which Clearwire uses for WiMAX. During the CTIA Wireless 2010 trade show last month, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow reiterated the company's interest in deploying LTE when the technology catches up to WIMAX. He also called for one standard down the road.