Optical/IP Networks

MTS India Signs Up for Advanced CDMA

India's fastest-growing new entrant, Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd. , is the first operator in the world to commit to CDMA 1x Advanced, the recently standardized upgrade to CDMA 1x.

SSTL, which operates under the MTS brand, is the only one of the new operators that received licenses last year to use CDMA technology. In India's spectrum-strapped market, it received just 2.5MHz of startup spectrum in each of the six circles in which it currently operates, with a further five to be added by the end of the year, including the metros of Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai. (See MTS India Completes First Phase Rollout and A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)

To get additional spectrum, it will need to reach specified subscriber targets, although this looks likely to change. (See India Auction Fever.)

But despite its limited spectrum, MTS India, which had about 1.5 million subscribers at the end of July, is looking to differentiate on quality and avoid the dropped calls that are a significant issue for many of India's established operators. (See MTS India Hits 1M in Rajasthan.)

And MTS believes CDMA 1x Advanced is the technology that can help it achieve its aims. 1x Advanced is a channel card upgrade that improves base transceiver station (BTS) interference cancellation, power control, early frame termination, and smart blanking.

The technology was ratified by 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) in the middle of August and has been developed to improve both voice capacity and data speeds. Theoretically, 1x Advanced can increase voice capacity fourfold, according to CDMA developer Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) and the CDMA Development Group (CDG) .

The enhancements associated with 1X Advanced can be integrated all at once or in phases. The first phase, which provides a 50 percent increase in voice capacity, requires new handsets and a software upgrade, and has been possible for some time. However, it is the interference cancellation and radio link enhancements that come courtesy of a new channel card that bring about the quadrupling of voice capacity.

The channel cards are expected to be commercially available in the second quarter of 2010 and new devices following that. However, SSTL was unable to confirm when 1x Advanced services would be available to customers.

MTS India's current CDMA network infrastructure suppliers are Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See Vendors Queue Up for Indian Deals and Shyam Names Vendors.)

— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading

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