TD-LTE in China

China has become the largest consumer of mobile phones and services in the world, says Maravedis Analyst, Basharat Ashai, and now they’re moving into LTE.

But China isn’t planning to use the same flavor of LTE that Verizon and AT&T chose for the United States. China is committing to unpaired (Time-Division) LTE. It uses only a single channel for both talking and listening. Chinese engineers say TD-LTE can better utilize spectrum in highly populated areas, since one channel isn’t wasted, “listening”. It better matches data needs and can easily provide more capacity down than up.

China has long been the leader in advancing Time Division telephony. They started with 3G telephony and the TD-SCDMA standard. Now the world’s largest nation is planning the next leap – to (so-called) “4G” with the TD-LTE standard.

The aggregate number of mobile subscribers of the three main telecom operators (China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom) stood at approximately 823 million as of the end of November 2010.

But the vast majority of Chinese mobile subscribers are still using 2G technology. China had only 42 million 3G subscribers. China Mobile leads with a 3G share of 45%, while China Unicom and China Telecom had 30% and 25%, respectively.

China Mobile controls a huge 70 percent market share of China’s total mobile sector, according to Wireless Intelligence, but their percent of 3G connections is far less than the other two 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’s 3G subscribers account for approximately 8% of its users, while China Mobile is closer to 3%. China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network is why, says Ashai. Their handsets only address the domestic market and force operators to create more expensive dual mode handsets for global roaming.

TD-LTE is different. The ITU-approved standard looks like it’s a global hit right out of the box. India appears to have overwhelmingly chosen TD-LTE over WiMAX for its nation-wide broadband wireless networks. That’s hundreds of millions of new broadband wireless subscribers. And then there’s the rest of the world. China now appears committed: TD-LTE is going to be big.

Apple fully supports China Mobile’s TD-LTE technology and talks are ongoing over a possible iPhone tie up with the carrier, reports Reuters. China Mobile’s Chairman, Wang Jianzhou, has said that Apple will support a TD-LTE phone.

China Mobile is driving TD-LTE in China and trying to gain support for TD-LTE outside the country. The company is testing TD-LTE in 6 cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiamen. Telecom giants such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE, have participated in technical trials of TD-LTE technology with China Mobile since the end of 2008.

The rest is history.

Related LTE stories on Dailywireless include; China: The Big Picture, TD-LTE for China Mobile, China Mobile: Slow TD-SCDMA Sales, South Korea: SK Telecom Goes LTE, 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.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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