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Development of TD-LTE in China

Updated:2010/7/11 12:57

 China Mobile has been focusing on building a nationwide TD network since it took over TD-SCDMA technology. The TD voice network’s call success rate has reached 99 % with more than 108,000 TD base stations covering most areas in China. This indicates that China’s self-innovated 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, is under further development and TD network coverage is also improving, both of which lay an important foundation for the future evolution to TD-LTE.

In order to upgrade the industrial chain, China Mobile vigorously promoted their TD business. Since entering the 3G era, there has been increasingly fierce competition in the telecommunications industry. Operators have started to transit from price competition to brand, business, and services competition. Aiming to continue their glory in 2G era, China Mobile presented a great variety of innovative 3G business, and closely collaborated with terminal manufacturers and content providers. As a result, all their efforts are to strengthen the product recognition rate and pave way for the commercialization process of TD-LTE.

China Mobile is also further accelerating the research and development of TD-LTE technology. By continuously enhancing the network transfer rate, the network can support diversification of the business needs. TD-LTE’s test results increased from 30Mbps at the initial stage to the current rate of 80Mbps, which indicates great improvement of network speed. From the above statistics, we can conclude that technology is not a major obstacle, the key point is whether China Mobile can grasp the important opportunity for industry development and market expansion.
In the largest ever Shanghai World Expo, China Mobile has deployed the world’s first TD-LTE demo network covering the entire Expo Park with a total area of 5.28 square kilometers. The demo network’s theoretical peak downlink speed was up to 100Mbps, and 50Mbps up, which far exceeded 40 times more than the current commercialized 3G standard networks. The success of TD-LTE demo network at the Shanghai World Expo pushes forward the rapid development of this pre-4G technology, and also largely improves the TD-LTE’s internationalization process.

According to insider, in the second half of 2010, China Mobile will build pre-commercial TD-LTE network in 4-5 cities, each with at least 100 base stations to guarantee the complete network coverage.  This means that, based on the success achieved in the Shanghai World Expo, the world’s first TD-LTE test network, LTE will officially enter the pre-commercial phase.

TD-LTE’s development has an undoubted effect on the communication industry chain as a whole in China. On one hand, it maintains TD standard’s long-term and sustainable development; On the other hand, it upgrades the whole communication industry in China, in both areas of international power of discourse and international construction of industry chain.

Rise of TD-LTE

TD-LTE, as a pre-4G standard, is part of the 3GPP specifications for the next generation cellular technology. In China, TD-LTE will be an evolution from TD-SCDMA and will satisfy carriers’ various needs for the use of unpaired spectrum.

TD-LTE has the following unique advantages: the TD-LTE standard is coordinated with the world’s LTE mainstream development, and maintains its international status; TD-LTE can share the achievements of the LTE industry chain, including the terminal and system development because of the hardware compatibility between FDD and TDD modes; manufactures with WiMAX experience can easily transit to TD-LTE, because the two standards share the same research fruits of TDD mode. This largely shortens the pre-commercialization period of TD-LTE standard.
However, internationalizing TD-LTE standard encounters main problems in the following aspects: The first problem concerns spectrum resource, which is the foundation of wireless technology. The second issue is the support of carriers, which guarantees the technology’s deployment. The third aspect for consideration is the collaboration with more international equipment manufacturers, who can provide essential support for the commercialization of TD-LTE.

TD-LTE needs to deal with the competition pressure from its TDD mode rival WiMAX (IEEE802.16e and its evolutional version IEEE802.16m). However, relying on its technical innovation, TD-LTE is competitive enough to join ITU’s IMT-Advanced standard, and beat WiMAX.

In Europe, America, Asia and other countries and regions, operators have cooperated with China Mobile on TD-LTE technology to start the trial network construction by 2010 and even the network commercialization. According to China Mobile, they plan to launch 8 TD-LTE test networks worldwide in 2010 to accelerate the internationalization process of TD-LTE.

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