Despite its 3G predecessor having something of a lacklustre impact on the market, China’s home-grown LTE variant looks like it will fare much better. Guy Daniels reports.
According to a report on yesterday’s Taiwan DigiTimes website
, local handset supply chain makers are expecting demand for TD-LTE devices to take off in the second half of 2013 or the first half of 2014. This reinforces the belief that the China-developed variant of LTE lags behind the more established LTE-FDD by one to two years.
According to the GSA
, of the 80 commercial LTE networks around the world, there are five dedicated TD-LTE ones and two using a combination of both technologies. And of the 417 LTE devices from 67 vendors, 68 are TD-LTE enabled.
Last week, the Beijing News
reported that China Mobile would launch its 4G service later this year. The company’s vice general manager, Li Zhengmao, said that China Mobile will launch more than ten 4G smartphone models by the first half of next year, rising to over 100 by 2014.
China Mobile will also extend its TD-LTE test network, to include over 20,000 TD-LTE base stations.
It is already testing TD-LTE networks in 13 cities, including Shanghai and Beijing.
According to a Xinhuanet report, Li Zhengmao explained that a lack of handsets is a bottleneck in the development of TD-LTE, but that: “the TD-LTE industry chain has become mature and it will have enough models within one or two years”.
Operating licences are another reason for the delay in TD-LTE, as the Chinese government has said it will not issue them for at least another two years. Once China Mobile is able to bring its TD-LTE network into commercial service though, it should lead to a wider uptake of interest in the technology, as economies of scale result in decreasing hardware costs and more vendors move to support China Mobile.
ZTE is expected to launch a TD-LTE phone by the end of this year, which is already being used in trials in Guangdong Province, to be followed closely by a device from Huawei. International manufacturers are not expected to launch TD-LTE smartphones until 2014.
TD-SCDMA was first proposed to the ITU as a 3G technology in 1998, with the first specifications released in 2001. Trials started in China in 2005 in three cities, increasing to 10 cities and 14,000 base stations by 2006. China Mobile was issued a TD-SCDMA licence in 2009 and now has around 61 million subscribers on the network (as of April 2012).
TD-LTE work actually commenced in December 2007, with field trials commencing in China in 2010. The first networks launched in 2011. Commercial TD-LTE networks are running in Brazil (Sky Brazil), India (Bharti Aitel), Japan (Softbank), Saudi Arabia (Etisilat Mobily and STC) and also in dual mode in Poland (Aero2) and Sweden (3 Sweden).
please sign in to rate this article