Indian TD-LTE mobile networks may have received a round-about boost after China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless operator, agreed to buy more than $7 billion in Time Division LTE gear, potentially increasing the availability of phones and network equipment based on that standard and lowering costs, according to India’s version of the Wall Street Journal.
Indian telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel and Reliance, have pan-India TD-LTE licenses, but are struggling with high costs and limited handsets that support the standard. Airtel is the world’s third largest mobile telecommunications company with over 261 million subscribers across 150 countries as of August 2012. Airtel has 189 million Indian subs while Reliance has 154 million subs.
China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone company with 740 million subscribers, said that more than 100 smartphones were being developed for its upcoming TD-LTE fourth-generation network. China Mobile has reportedly been in talks with Apple for a TD-LTE handset.
This month, the $7 billion China Mobile network contract will began the first phase of roll-outs. The operator expects to end 2013 with more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in 13 cities, up from the 20,000 base stations it had deployed by the end of last year.
Meanwhile, China Mobile has received a request from rival China Telecom for the lease of its TD-LTE network. China Telecom said it would consider renting TD-LTE services from its rival if it received a TD-LTE licence from China’s State Council, which it did. Meanwhile, China Unicom has begun testing a TD-LTE network, which the company will use if the government does not allow it to use FDD-LTE technology.
The TD-LTE standard is also being adopted by Japan’s SoftBank and Clearwire in the USA. Bharti was also a founding member of the Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), whose members include Vodafone, Clearwire, Japan’s Softbank, Bharti and Reliance.
There’s still a long way to go before the TD-LTE standard can reach critical mass, some experts caution.
Qualcomm’s success with its latest chips that work on both technology platforms is also set to pave the way for major handset makers, including Apple, to launch products that run on the TD-LTE technology.
Earlier this year, China Mobile unveiled four smartphones from vendors such as Huawei, ZTE, HTC and LG that run on both the 4G technology standards. These along with seven other models are slated to be commercially available by the year end, but still accounts for a small segment of the 4G ecosystem as close to 1,000 devices have been announced on the more popular platform, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association.
Qualcomm already offers an LTE processor, the 8930, in the Snapdragon 400 family. The 8926 is built around a lower-cost system architecture, and is timed to coincide with the official launch of LTE in China, which is expected later this year. Qualcomm’s 8926 processor supports both TD-SCDMA and TD-LTE, so it is well suited to China Mobile’s network, and can work in more tradional FD-LTE networks as well.
An LTE world phone.
By 2016, LTE will claim more than 1.0 billion users, as shown in the figure above, equivalent to a five-year compound annual growth rate of 139 percent.
TD-LTE subscriptions will surpass 500 Million by 2017, with annual TD-LTE service revenues of $91 Billion worldwide, forecasts Research and Markets.
China plans to complete broadband coverage in both its urban and rural areas by 2020. China Daily reports the strategy aims at rolling out Wi-Fi coverage in key public urban areas by 2013 and fixed broadband coverage for half of Chinese households by 2015.
Related Dailywireless articles include; The Next Trillion, Bharti Airtel Activates TD-LTE in India, LTE-Advanced: Upsetting the Apple Cart?, China: 1 Billion Mobile Activations, India: HSPA King by 2016, India’s Broadband Auction: It’s Done, Qualcomm Gets Indian Partners, Vendors Scramble for Indian Backhaul, TD-LTE: It’s Alive!, China Mobile + Clearwire + Apple?