China Mobile boosts TD LTE with roll-out plans

01 March 2012 |


China Mobile has thrown its support behind the adoption of TD LTE by revealing ambitious plans to establish 20,000 TD LTE base stations by the end of 2012 and 200,000 by the end of 2013.

Analysts have touted China Mobile’s roll-out to be an important milestone for TD LTE and the move could prompt the country to move away from its reliance on TD SCDMA technology.

China Mobile’s TD LTE installations are expected to begin during the second half of this year and will see some of its existing TD SCDMA sites upgraded to TD LTE, according to China Mobile president Li Yu.

China Mobile, which has the largest number of mobile subscribers in the world, already has TD LTE trials in nine Chinese cities having recently extended trials to Beijing, Tianjin and Qingdaom. Of these Hangzhou and Shenzhen are expected to establish full TD LTE coverage of urban areas by the end of this year.

TD LTE uses unpaired spectrum which allows the uplink and downlink rates of the technology to be changed dynamically. This has lead to claims that the technology is superior in supporting demand for mobile data than the paired spectrum standard, FD LTE, as users typically download more than they upload.

Momentum behind the adoption of TD LTE is growing worldwide, and TD LTE networks are already live in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Japan and Brazil. The Global TD LTE Initiative (GTI) was established in February 2011 as a platform for cooperation among global operators.

In January 2012 GTI operators, including China Mobile and Clearwire, entered into an agreement regarding test specifications and joint interoperability testing for TD LTE devices in global spectrum band configuration. Clearwire’s involvement could help ensure that TD LTE technology enters into the FD LTE dominated US market. Clearwire plans to conduct its TD LTE common interoperability testing in Phoenix, Arizona and Herndon, Virginia.

The success of the technology is also down to chip makers, such as Qualcomm, which have been working to manufacture chips that support both FD LTE and TD LTE. Qualcomm introduced its first dual FD LTE and TD LTE supporting chip at Mobile World Congress this week.

The technology could potentially mean that TD LTE will eventually not compete directly with FD LTE, as mobile devices will be able to support both standards. A number of operators worldwide are operating, or are planning to operate, simultaneous TD LTE and FD LTE networks, including Hutchison Telecom Hong Kong and Hi3G in Sweden

For more about TD LTE and FD LTE read our Need to Know article.