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Shanghai showcases a TD-LTE connected future

Steven Hartley | May 12, 2010
Exploring the pavilions, it is clear that telecommunications is a key enabler of the future visions exhibited.

The concept of Shanghais recently opened World Expo is Better City, Better Life. Exploring the pavilions, it is clear that telecommunications is a key enabler of the future visions exhibited. To this end, we believe that China Mobiles trial TD-LTE network will have global ramifications.

TD-LTE brings the future to China

One of the most striking aspects of the Expo is how the different future visions assumed connectivity. For example, the Road to the Future, presented by the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and General Motors, envisaged a world where smart cars, grids, and devices connected people on personal, city, and global levels. In fact, the presentation featured a far stronger telecoms message than automotive.

China Mobiles trial TD-LTE network at the Expo underpinned how future communications and the internet of things will be delivered. The trial network covers the entire 5.28 square-km site, outdoors with 17 base stations, and inside in nine pavilions and two demonstration centers.

TD-LTE has plenty of global potential

As we discussed in our report TD-LTE, China Mobiles long-term engagement with TD, TD-LTE has a strong chance to become a global technology, very different from the more parochial TD-SCDMA.

Several factors support this outlook. First, TD-LTE has been part of international standardization processes since its inception. It is in the 3GPP Release 8 standard and the LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI) work plan. Also, the Next-Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance has selected both TD-LTE and LTE FDD.

Second, the TD-LTE ecosystem is growing rapidly. The bulk of the Expo coverage has, unsurprisingly, been provided by Huawei, which is providing outdoor coverage. In addition, Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, ZTE, and Datang are covering several of the pavilions. Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson are also taking part in China Mobiles trials. The same logic carried over to devices, with three different vendors providing dongles. This array of vendors is intended to prove the technologys multi-vendor and interoperability credentials, even at this early stage.

Third, the WiMAX community is moving increasingly towards TD-LTE to benefit from LTEs economies of scale and ecosystem. FarEast Tone in Taiwan has already publicly stated its intention to do this and Clearwire has asked for a new working group in the 3GPP to investigate the use of TD-LTE in the 2.6GHz band. Others will undoubtedly follow. This certainly explains the interest in TD-LTE by major WiMAX vendors, such as Motorola, which can leverage its R&D, while generating new sales revenues from migrating WiMAX customers to TD-LTE.

Finally, mobile broadband demands mean that operators could offer parallel services on FDD and TDD spectrum to optimize spectral efficiency. In this way, operators anywhere in the world could leverage all available spectrum, depending on the type, volume, and pricing of spectrum available at allocation. Alternatively, operators could simply acquire sub-scale WiMAX players those with disproportionate TDD spectrum allocations relative to their current and prospective customer bases.


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