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TDD Camp Targets WiMax, FDD Operators

Robert Clark
News Analysis
Robert Clark

Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), the TDD LTE advocacy group, has reportedly made the mass conversion of WiMax operators one of its top priorities for the year.

The group, whose members include Softbank, China Mobile, and Sprint, sees the several hundred WiMax operators and their spectrum as potentially valuable assets in their emerging competition with the dominant FDD standard.

According to China’s Sina Tech news, a GTI pre-Mobile World Congress meeting in Barcelona last Friday specified the need to win over WiMax operators to help build scale for the standard. They also agreed to target large FDD LTE operators and emerging market carriers.

Of the more than 250 commercial LTE networks in operation, only 28 are using TDD LTE technology, while another 40 networks are under construction.

More than 450 Wimax networks are in operation, according to the WiMax Forum, but the technology, which was the earliest 4G standard, suffers from a continual stream of defections.

The forum agreed in November on a technology path that would allow WiMax operators to harmonize their networks with TDD LTE in the 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, and 3.5 GHz bands.

According to Sina, the WiMax operators are seeking to evolve to TDD via WiMax 2.1 rather than junking their existing deployments. It adds: “WiMax and TDD are close in technology terms, and moreover LTE-TDD is rich in spectrum resources.”

It points out that while TDD LTE is the “the only exit for WiMax operators,” the massive amount of available TDD frequencies are attractive to FDD operators, which have very limited spectrum left.

The Japanese government announced last month that it planned to allocate 3.5 GHz spectrum for TDD to the country’s three 4G operators by year-end.

The GTI meeting agreed on a 2014 development plan, committing the group to “fully guid[ing] Wimax operators to LTE-TDD” and to “induce major FDD” and emerging market operators to adopt the standard.

— Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, special to Light Reading

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