Ovum has highlighted the potential of LTE TDD on many occasions, but has also pointed out the various challenges it faces. In particular we have highlighted that the current status of the device ecosystem may negatively impact the pace of rollout.
Devices are always a crucial success factor for any kind of technology, but for LTE TDD they are even more important because most of the operators that have announced aggressive LTE TDD plans are based in emerging markets (China, India, and Russia). That means that low-cost devices will have to be made available quickly to serve these markets. In that sense, the creation of the Global TD-LTE Initiative at Mobile World Congress 2011 is a step in the right direction.
Launch of the GTI accelerates ecosystem development
Last week, China Mobile, Bharti Airtel, Softbank Mobile, Vodafone, Clearwire, E-Plus, and Aero2 officially launched the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI). The organization will focus on promoting the fast development of LTE TDD technology, promoting the convergence of LTE TDD and FDD modes to maximize economies of scale, and sharing the ecosystem with other TDD technologies, such as the Japanese eXtended Global Platform (XGP) technology.
In the mobile telecoms industry, scale is vital – something that Wimax can testify to. A certain scale for LTE TDD was guaranteed by strong support from China Mobile, the largest operator in the world. However, as TD-SCDMA proved to its cost, this is not necessarily enough to make LTE TDD technology a global success. China Mobile consequently considered it strategically vital to garner support from other key players. Attracting vendor’s interest was the easy part given China Mobile’s size, but making sure that other operators would consider the LTE TDD option required more imagination. This LTE TDD evangelism started years ago, often behind the scenes, and finally came to fruition with the creation of the GTI.
As a consequence, the main merit of the GTI announcement really lies in the official support for LTE TDD (and better harmonization with LTE FDD) from a number of international players. With heavyweights such as China Mobile, Bharti Airtel, Softbank Mobile, and Vodafone Group – serving more than 1.1 billion subscribers in total at the end of 2010 – the GTI is certainly heading in the right direction. However, to further contribute to the virtuous cycle that the GTI aims to fuel, the organization remains fully open to all operators and technology vendors interested in promoting LTE TDD.