China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator with 655 million customers, has unveiled their plan to widely deploy TD-LTE across the country. The company said that over 20,000 TD-LTE base stations will be in operation by the end of this year, growing to 200,000 by 2013.
China Mobile president Li Yu said that TD-LTE had now moved into a new phase after trials in six Chinese cities had proved positive. “We’re ready for large scale deployment with commercial service becoming available in 2013,” said Yu. “The first TD-LTE installations will start during the second half of this year, and this will include some of the existing TD-SCDMA sites being upgraded to TD-LTE.”
In 2010, a TD-LTE demonstration network at the Shanghai World Expo and Guangzhou Asia Games, received positive feedback. TD-LTE trials were held in six cities, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiamen along with a demonstration network in Beijing.
Li Yu added that its cellular operations in Hong Kong, which has access to TDD and FDD bands, will launch this year as an early example of a converged LTE service in the region. Hong Kong will use 30MHz of TDD spectrum in bands 2330MHz-2360MHz.
To help promote the TD-LTE initiative, the CEOs of Qualcomm and Hi Silicon took the stage to announce multimode device chipsets supporting 2G, 3G and TDD/FDD LTE. Qualcomm showed a 28nm multiband chip set. HiSilicon, the chip division of Huawei, showed a 40 nm chip.
Chip manufacturer Marvell today also announced a complete reference design for both FD and TD flavors of LTE along with support for TD-SCDMA, China Mobile’s own 3G system. Marvell says it’s the industry’s most advanced multimode modem chipset for TD-SCDMA and LTE markets for use in globally connected devices.
Speaking at the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI) Summit yesterday, the China Mobile president stressed his support for handset vendors developing converged devices using both TDD and FDD LTE. Clearwire and China Mobile formed the Global TD-LTE Initiative to promote the time division flavor of LTE and harmonize global standards.
TD-LTE, of course, uses only one channel (like WiFi) for both transmitting and receiving. While range can be less, the advantages of TD-LTE include more efficient spectrum use (one channel is not wasted while “listening”), and fewer radio components which makes MIMO and beam forming more practical on both the tower and handset. The latest chips from Qualcomm support both flavors of LTE, as well as China Mobile’s own 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, in a variety of frequencies, mostly in the 2.3 GHz and 2.6 GHz bands.
To date nearly all global launches of LTE have used the FDD version of the technology. The TDD version of LTE is expected to gain traction in India, China and with US operators Clearwire and Sprint. The China Mobile launch this year and Indian launch, anticipated next year, could propel the standard into a major global force.
Worldwide, 10 telecom carriers have announced plans for commercial TD-LTE networks and 32 will set up experimental networks. Smartphones equipped with the latest Qualcomm, Marvell or Huawei chips might work internationally, on China Mobile, India, Clearwire or other networks. Huawei’s mobile hotspot can use TD/FD LTE for the backhaul as well as GSM/UMTS. China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou has said his company is in talks with Apple to launch an iPhone with its network.