The next generation mobile technology TD-LTE will see more trials across Asia in the coming year, but commercial use will take longer than in North America and Europe, according to Chinese networks supplier Huawei.
Telecom operators both in Asia and across the world are looking at the TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) standard as a way to move toward higher-speed fourth-generation (4G) mobile networks. Currently, there are two versions of the standard that will be in use for 4G technology: TD-LTE and FDD-LTE (Frequency Division Duplex).
China Mobile, the country's largest mobile carrier with 579 million subscribers, has been the major supporter behind TD-LTE technology. The carrier has announced it will begin trials of the technology in six cities across China, which are meant to see how the networks can be used commercially. India's Reliance Industries also reportedly wants to start developing a commercial TD-LTE network this year.
Other telecom operators in Japan, Malaysia and Australia are also looking at using the TD-LTE technology to improve their networks, said Lu Xingang, Huawei's Vice President of CDMA/TDD/LTE product line.
Due to the growing use of smartphones and tablets to retrieve apps and information, carriers have to increase the capacity of their telecommunication networks. Companies in regions like North America and Europe are building 4G networks with the FDD-LTE technology. But relying on FDD-LTE technology alone, however, will not be enough to meet the requirements, he said.
These carriers will instead have to deploy both the FDD and TD technology together on their networks to handle the demand. "In the future I think this will be the trend," Lu said.
However, outside of South Korea and Japan, the adoption of 4G technology could take longer, he added. "Many countries in Asia they will first start small-scale trials and small-scale commercial deployment," Lu said.
Huawei has won the contract to build a commercial TD-LTE network for Polish broadband carrier Aero2. In this case, the TD-LTE technology will be used in convergence with FDD, Lu said. Huawei has also won two other commercial contracts to build TD-LTE networks.
Nokia Siemens Networks also plans to deploy commercial TD-LTE networks in 2011. "While TD-LTE was initially driven mainly from China, it has started gaining traction in many other markets as well," the company said in a statement. "TD-LTE clearly is a global technology."
Both Nokia Siemens and Huawei will participate in the TD-LTE trials China Mobile is conducting.
The growing interest in TD-LTE across Asia also stems from how carriers believe the technology will cost less than deploying the FDD-LTE version, said CW Cheung, a consulting director with analyst firm Ovum. Huawei said that licenses for TD-LTE in India are expected to cost about 50 percent less than the licenses for FDD-LTE.