China Mobile is expanding its TD-LTE trials as it aims to move quickly to 4G, even though it is likely to wait some years for new spectrum allocations.
It is using a combination of TD-LTE, overlaying its TD-SCDMA network in its 3G bands, plus extensive Wi-Fi. The latest services have gone live in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing and Hangzhou, bringing the number of trial 4G cities to seven, with capital Beijing to follow next.
Given the shortage of commercial devices, the 4G networks are initially being used for Wi-Fi backhaul in many cases, or to deliver access to major highways and public transport. As well as a massive Wi-Fi hotspot deployment, with Mobile targeting a million access points, the operator is also committed to a major roll-out of femtocells to boost indoor and public access coverage and capacity.
It has recruited small cell chip provider Mindspeed to help in this task, and the pair will create a joint development lab to support femtocell programs – initially using the 3G standard TD-SCDMA, and later TD-LTE too.
China Mobile is already deploying 3G femtocells based on Mindspeed chips in Suzhou, and the cellco's assistant general manager for that market, Gu Yihong, commented: “Femtocell technologies in China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network have achieved commercial deployment. This joint development brings a significantly improved customer experience and further demonstrates that small cells will play important roles in wireless broadband services. The convergence of TD-SCDMA, TD-LTE, GSM and Wi-Fi is a fast evolving technology trend.”
Mindspeed's Transcede processors can support HSPA, LTE (FD or TD) and TD-SCDMA in a single chip, which reduces cost and time to market for OEMs.