TD-LTE needs three more years to hit mainstream

TD-LTE needs three more years to hit mainstream

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch  |   July 16, 2012
 
“The rules about how this spectrum could be allocated and used aren't yet clear. It could be standalone or possibly use carrier aggregation with other bands which could be quite interesting to existing spectrum holders. Perhaps it will be positioned somewhere between the 'free for all' Wi-Fi and completely independent cellular networks.”
 
These are interesting options for the future, but the real focus today is on the major new TD-LTE roll-outs like those in China and India, and even a few cellcos looking to do dual-mode FDD/TDD from day one to maximize their data capabilities (such as 3 Scandinavia).
 
According to DigiTimes, the chronicler of the Taiwanese device business, local handset makers expect demand for TD-LTE devices to take off in the second half of 2013 or the first half of 2014, while the latest figures from the GSA says that 68 of the 417 LTE devices now available have TDD mode enabled (this figure includes fixed gadgets and modems, not just handsets, and enabling TD-LTE does not mean it is actively used).
 
The expected uptick in late 2013 will depend on China Mobile sticking to its schedule for deploying 4G services from later this year. The cellco‘s vice general manager, Li Zhengmao, said this week that the operator would launch more than 10 TD-LTE smartphones by mid-2013, rising to over 100 by 2014. It is currently testing TD-LTE in 13 cities, including Shanghai and Beijing.
 
Li Zhengmao told local reporters: “The TD-LTE industry chain has become mature and it will have enough models within one or two years”, though Mobile also needs to obtain new operating licences for 4G to achieve full coverage, and the government may not grant these for another two years at least. However, it will upgrade existing TD-SCDMA base stations in the meantime. Its growing network continues to be described as a trial because of the lack of licences, though with 200,000 base stations planned by next year, that “stretches the definition of what a trial is” as Ric Clark, an Asia-Pacific vice president at Alcatel-Lucent, put it. Most of the phase two “trials” are in 2.6GHz rather than refarmed 3G spectrum.
 
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