TD-LTE for China Mobile

China Mobile said Friday it will start large-scale testing of a domestically developed TD-LTE technology, having received approval from regulators. The six cities involved in the large-scale TD-LTE pilot are Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Xiamen using more than 3000 base-stations.

China Mobile, under a mandate by the Chinese government, developed a local Chinese 3G standard called TD-SCDMA, which combined elements of CDMA on an unpaired (single) frequency. TD-LTE is a variant of the Long Term Evolution standard that generally uses paired frequencies.

TD-LTE is now recognized by the ITU as an official standard and it may dominate that other huge telecommunications market – India.

China Mobile hopes its early moves will help prevent TD-LTE being seen as a secondary, poor relation in the LTE ecosystem, as TD-SCDMA has been in 3G, leading to a shortage of devices and applications.

The Telecommunications industry in China is dominated by three state-run mobile operators. A fierce battle for 3G market share is now underway between the three main operators: China Mobile (using TD-SCDMA), China Unicom (using WCDMA) and China Telecom (using EV-DO 3G). China Unicom added over a million 3G users in the past two months, lower than bigger rival China Mobile with 1.7 million users added in October. China Mobile is the world’s biggest phone carrier by subscribers and was assigned TD-SCDMA (now an international standard).

China currently has the most cell phone users in the world with over 800 million users in July 2010. China Mobile’s subscriber base has now passed the 575 million, while Unicom has more than 160 million customers. China also has the largest number of internet and broadband users in the world. China Telecom and China Unicom, combined, account for 20% of global broadband subscribers.

But the total number of 3G subscribers in China was only 38 million by the end of October 2010. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom only launched their respective 3G networks in January 2009. Compared to other countries, China’s 3G — and 4G — growth is anticipated to be spectacular.

China’s telecommunications regulator, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, will plan and organize the testing. China Mobile will be responsible for network construction, operation maintenance, examination and testing of technological products, it said in a statement.

A series of domestic and overseas equipment makers will participate in the tests, China Mobile said, including ZTE, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Ericsson.

In January 2009 China took the unusual step of assigning licences for 3 different 3G mobile phone standards to its three huge mobile phone operators, prompting some $41 billion in spending on new equipment.

China Unicom – the country’s second largest operator – has cut the minimum monthly fee for its 3G service by more than half, reports Bloomberg. The company chopped prices for its lowest monthly 3G (WCDMA) service to CNY46 (US$6.90).

Ericsson says that mobile data traffic surpassed voice traffic for the first time in December 2009. Although twenty-two carriers plan to roll-out LTE commercially this year, data over LTE remains the only service offered. No voice. The industry still lacks a clear strategy for supporting voice over LTE.

Related LTE stories on Dailywireless include; China: The Big Picture, China Mobile: Slow TD-SCDMA Sales , World’s First TD-LTE Data Call, End Near for Indian WiMAX?, Internet Traffic: 18 Minute Gap?, LTE Vs WiMAX in Asia: World War IV?, Age of Exascale, LTE in Japan by December, ZTE Criticized, Big Contracts for Alcatel-Lucent, 3G Launches in India, Qualcomm India: For Sale?, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, Vendors Scramble for Indian Backhaul, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, LTE-TDD & WiMAX: Two Peas in a Pod? Indian 3g/4g Auction: Qualcomm Bidding TD-LTE, LTE Migration White Paper, LTE: Wait For ItBlowback on 2.6 GHz, LTE: Cox Cable Calling, LTE Phones to be Showcased at MWC, T-Mobile USA Merger? and Solutions Promoted for Voice over LTE.

Skype to be Banned in China?

China will crack down on what it calls “illegal Internet telephone providers”, a policy that may ban the popular VoiP provider, Skype.

The decision was made by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology but no date for its implementation was announced, the Peoples’ Daily reports.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Thursday quoted an unidentified ministry official as saying VoIP services could only be provided by the big three Chinese operators. That would be China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile.

The statement did not mention any phone companies by name, but called for a crackdown “on illegal VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) telephone services” and said it was collecting evidence for legal cases against them. Skype is still available in China through its joint venture partner TOM Online and, as of Thursday, Skype had not been contacted by Chinese government officials, a Skype spokesman said.

Luxembourg-based Skype is preparing a 2011 initial public offering that is expected to value it at about $1 billion. Skype has about 124 million users worldwide.

Skype, partly owned by web retailer eBay Inc, has been growing in popularity among Chinese users and businesses to make cheap or free international phone calls over the Internet.

“Nearly 1 in 6 people in the world live in China, and a great many of them rely on Skype to connect with families and friends, run businesses, and call people around the world,” wrote Skype’s Josh Silverman in an October blog post about Chinese privacy.

Craig McCaw Steps Down

Wireless pioneer Craig McCaw, the chairman of Clearwire, has decided to resign from his position effective December 31, the company said in a regulatory filing late Thursday.

Clearwire, the first U.S. operator to offer “4G” services, launched WiMAX in Sept, 2008, in Baltimore. The company currently offers WiMAX broadband wireless services in 68 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia.

The company said McCaw’s decision to resign is not due to any disagreements with the company on any matters relating to the its operations, policies, or practices.

In November, Clearwire cut 15 percent of its staff amid financing challenges. Earlier this month it completed a $1.33 billion debt offering and said it will use the proceeds for general corporate purposes including capital spending.

It had 2.8 million subscribers by the end of September and predicts it will have 4 million by the end of the year, twice as many as initially expected, says Business Week.

Clearwire is majority-owned by Sprint Nextel. It is backed by Intel, Comcast, Google and others who pumped $3.2 billion into the company in 2008, to create the nation-wide 4G wireless network.

McCaw was nominated to the position by Eagle River Holdings, one of Clearwire’s biggest shareholders. Eagle River has the right to nominate a director to replace McCaw and intends to choose Ben Wolff, according to the filing. Wolff, who was a co- chairman of Clearwire until early 2009, is chief executive officer of ICO Global Communications Holdings Ltd.

The company is facing new competition from Verizon’s LTE service on the 700 MHz band, along with AT&T which will begin 700 MHz LTE operations in the second half of 2011 and T-Mobile which is using an enhanced HSPA+ technology they say delivers equivalent speeds.

Craig McCaw made his fortune with cellular telephony. He was the first to stich together a disparate group of mom and pop cellular operators to create the first nationwide network – Cellular One, which he
sold to AT&T for in 1994 for $11.5 billion.

In 2003-2004, Craig McCaw stitched together a nationwide 2.6 GHz network right under the eyes of AT&T and other telecommunications giants.

Clearwire may be cash poor, but it is spectrum rich, owning some 120 MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum in major cities throughout the United States.T-Mobile paid $4.2 billion for 20 Mhz of nationwide AWS spectrum (1700/2100 MHz) in 2006.

Clearwire is conducting LTE tests this winter and throughout early 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona (see DW: Clearwire to Test LTE ). During the trials, Clearwire will collaborate with Beceem, and other partners, to determine the best methods for enabling end-user devices to take advantage of a potential multi-mode WiMAX/LTE network.

Craig McCaw’s satellite venture ICO, in the 2 GHz band, launched ICO G1 in April 2008, the largest commercial satellite ever launched at the time. But ICO’s business plan of providing multimedia to vehicles never panned out, and now the company is in the process of emerging from bankruptcy as DBSD Satellite Services.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire to Test LTE, Qualcomm Sells MediaFLO Spectrum for $1.93B, MSS: Stuck in Space, Technical Knockout for 4G?, End Near for Indian WiMAX?, Yota Dumps WiMAXThe 700 Mhz Club , TerreStar Genus: Can Anyone Hear Me?, Clearwire + T-Mobile?, Clear Puck: Hat Trick?, Phoney Spectrum Scarcity, US Wireless Business: Good Margins, Clearwire to Test LTE, Cheat Sheet for Cellco Financials, Clearwire’s $900M Payday, Mobile WiMAX: The Attack Plan, Mobile WiMAX: It Begins, XOHM: Live in Baltimore, ClearWire Launches Pre-WiMax, Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland , Intel Inside Clearwire , BellSouth Expands WiMAX, VeriLAN’s Portland City Cloud, First Commercial 802.16a Switched On

Top 10 Telecom Advancements

Jim Machi of the Dialogic Corporation, a leading provider of telecom technologies based on open standards, lists the Top 10 Telecom Advancements of the Past 10 Years;

  1. Advent of VoIP. “Triple play” cable services in your home would not be possible unless there was VoIP. “Skyping” would not be possible unless there was VoIP.
  2. Mobile networks through 2G, 2.5G and 3G. There will soon be the same number of cell phones on the planet as people.
  3. WiFi networks transform the computer to a mobile device.
  4. Broadband cellular. 3G+ networks transform the mobile device from just a phone to an extension of your computer.
  5. Smartphones. The smartphone is transforming the way people think about computing.
  6. New entrants. Google and Facebook can enter the telecom industry using the above technologies.
  7. Fixed Mobile Convergence. Connect to your email or office applications, anywhere, anytime.
  8. Mobile entertainment. Your phone is not just something to talk on or text with.
  9. Location-Based Service. Location-based advertising and “family locator” applications take off.
  10. Mobile Apps. Web APIs enable Internet applications to much more easily handle telecom functions.

Here are some additional noteworthy advancements:

  • Satellite Broadband. Slow speed LEO platforms now have GEO-based competition delivering mobile broadband. Inmarsat, Lightsquared and Terrestar don’t need terrestial towers (but may use them).
  • Cheap backhaul. Technologies like WiMAX, millimeter band, and satellite networks including GEO spotbeam platforms and O3B can connect 3G/4G towers.
  • White spaces and spectrum. Promising, but still unproven. The track record of Wi-Fi, however, makes a powerful case for the availability of free, unlicensed spectrum everywhere.
  • Phone/Tablet Apps. Is anything more exciting than the development of inexpensive, powerful applications? They are transformative.
  • Cloud Apps. With supercomputer web services, anything seems possible.
  • E-Publishing. Will the subscription model “save” the magazine and newspaper industry? Many observers believe it will transform publishing profoundly.
  • Globalization. Of the 6.6 billion people in the world, more than 5 billion use mobile phones. Nuff said.

You can probably think of even better examples. Many people can now make their own apps for little or no cost. Is there anything more transformative or exciting?

The Google App Inventor is a free application that allows anyone to create mobile applications. It uses a graphical drag-and-drop interface to create Android apps.

Other Year in Review articles include:

4G Growth Projections

Juniper Research says business users in developed countries, led by the U.S. and Japan, will be the primary beneficiary of LTE services, reports Fierce Wireless.

Juniper forecasts that global service revenues will exceed $200bn by 2015, from a standing start in 2011.

ABI Research forecast mobile WiMAX subscribers will approach 59 million by 2015 while Yankee Group forecast that WiMAX subscriptions will grow from 3.9 million (in November, 2009) to 92.3 million in 2015 (above).

Skype for iPhone

Today’s Skype for iPhone 3.0 announcement, adds video calling to the already hugely popular application. Skype for iPhone will work with other desktop or mobile users and is free. Skype for iPhone lets you make and receive free Skype video calls on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, and works over both WiFi and 3G connections.

The new app works on the latest dual-camera iOS devices; and will also work on the iPad and the iPhone 3GS. The camera-less iPad will only be able to receive video, while 3GS users will be able to broadcast video from their camera, but won’t be able to conduct two-way chats, since they don’t have a camera facing the user. Desktop Skype users (Windows and Mac) can share a view of their computer screen with Skype users on iPhone. Apple’s own Face Time video chatting software only works with Apple devices.

Skype says since the launch of the original Skype iPhone app (end of March, 2009), there have been over 30 million downloads of the Skype app for iPhone. During the first half of 2010, users made 95 billion minutes of voice and video calls using Skype (as of June 30, 2010). Video calling represented approximately 40% of all Skype-to-Skype minutes for the first six months of 2010.

There’s still no Skype video chat on its Android client. For U.S. customers, Skype for Android only works over WiFi. To use Skype on an Android phone over a 3G connection, you must be a Verizon Wireless customer and use Skype mobile. The upcoming HTC Thunderbolt, for Verizon Wireless, has two cameras, but may or may not include LTE. The 7″ Samsung Galaxy Tab, on T-Mobile, would be be a sweet platform for video chat, as may dozens of others soon to be announced.

The iPhone can eat up 15.9 megabytes of data during a five-minute video call, explains the Washington Post. At an average of 3.2 MB a minute, it would take little more than an hour to burn through the 200 MB monthly quota on AT&T’s entry-level data plan.

Competitor Fring also has a two-way video calling app that has been available in the iPhone app store since July. Android phones can also use the recently-released ooVoo Mobile. Another mobile video chat application, Qik, is used by Sprint’s EVO 4G and T-Mobile USA on the myTouch 4G phone.

Skype, which is free if you stay on the internet, also offers three calling plans (Unlimited U.S. & Canada, Unlimited North America and Unlimited World) for $2.99, $7.99 and $13.99, respectively. They let you call a landline or mobile. The difference between these plans is where you can call. You’re able to call 40 other destinations with the Unlimited World Plan. Even the most expensive plan doesn’t cost you very much. Skype Journal has more.

It’s anticipated that CES next week will feature new 7″-10″ Android tablets with dual cameras and Skype video chat and new iPads, rumored in the next few months, are expected to feature dual cameras as well.

Google already allows people to bypass their mobile carrier’s service. Google Voice lets customers send free text messages, and supports VoIP Internet calling, allowing users to make calls over over Wi-Fi networks.

Google’s Android 2.3 (“Gingerbread“), supports VoIP Internet calling via SIP, and allows users to make calls over Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth.