CSL has announced the launch of a commercial trial of LTE, the first in Hong Kong and the first in the region outside Japan.
Executives yesterday also announced plans to refarm its 900 MHz spectrum for 3G, and called on OEMs to help them develop devices for both.
Both the LTE trial and the UMTS900 rollout will be backed by Chinese vendor ZTE.
ZTE supplied the equipment for CSL’s conversion of its mobile network to an all-IP network with base stations supporting software-defined radio technology, which in turn enables CSL to refarm its 900 MHz spectrum for 3G, as well as trial LTE on its network, said CSL CTO Christian Daigneault.
“When we planned out the conversion of our network to all-IP with ZTE, we designed it with the idea that we would eventually refarm our spectrum for 3G and upgrade to LTE, and at a far less incremental cost,” he said.
Daigneault gave few details on the scope of the LTE trial, but told telecomasia.net it would be more than a single base station, and the trial would last “at least six months”.
CSL chief executive Tarek Robbiati played down suggestions that the company might be ready for full LTE before the end of next year.
“That will depend greatly on the availability of devices, which is still a significant issue for LTE,” he said at a press conference. “We are announcing this now because we want to show we are ready, and to invite our device partners to work with us to get the user experience right.”
Meanwhile, CSL’s UMTS900 rollout – which not only boosts 3G data capacity, but also improves indoor coverage – will be complete by early 2010, with 5 MHz allocated to 3G and the rest for 2G GSM traffic.
Robbiati added that while few handsets support UMTS900, with only a handful of such launches in Europe and Australia, CSL will work with device makers to get phones in the pipeline.