China Mobile Opens Up on LTE TDD Trials

China Mobile Communications Corp. has revealed more details about its six-city Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex (LTE TDD) trial that is already underway in China as well as its long-term plans for the mobile broadband technology.

The Chinese operator aims to deploy more than 100 base station sites in each of six cities to cover more than 100 million people in the LTE TDD trial from the beginning of next year, according to Dawei Zhang, director of wireless at the China Mobile USA Research Center, who was speaking in a Light Reading webinar, "The LTE TDD Operator Business Case & Adoption Forecast."

China Mobile will invest 200 million Yuan Renminbi (US$30 million) for the first phase of the trial and the friendly user trial, said Zhang.

Zhang also said that China Mobile will use two different frequency bands in the trial: 2.6GHz for outdoor coverage and 2.3GHz for indoor coverage. (See China Mobile Flexes LTE Muscle and China Mobile Preps LTE Network.)

Any indication from China Mobile about its LTE TDD trials is significant because the industry is watching these developments with deep interest. China has driven the development of this technology so that its next-gen mobile broadband technology would be compatible with the frequency division duplex (FDD) variety of LTE. And as the world's largest operator by subscribers, China Mobile has the scale to move this market. (See Teeing Up LTE TDD.)

Based on China Mobile's plans, Heavy Reading forecasts that there will be 50 million LTE TDD subscribers by 2014 and the total number of LTE subscribers -- which includes the FDD version of the technology -- will be 140 million by 2014. (See LTE TDD: In Mobile, Size Matters.)

For the six-city trial, China Mobile is confident of obtaining a sufficient number of devices. In a recent interview with Heavy Reading senior consultant Berge Ayvazian, which can be viewed here, Zhang said China Mobile expected to deploy thousands of LTE TDD terminals in each city for the friendly user trial.

Zhang also said that he expected to see a single chipset that supported both LTE TDD and LTE FDD coming onto the market near the end of this year, but he did not name the vendor. Chipsets that integrate both technologies will be key to bringing down costs and increasing the scale of LTE TDD.

China Mobile wants to deploy LTE TDD commercially "as soon as possible," said Zhang. "But we also need to evaluate the performance of these trials to determine if the technology is ready for commercial [deployment]."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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