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TD-LTE 4G Wireless Advancing In China

Ericsson says large-scale field trials of Time Division-LTE networks will begin in late 2010.

As the battle plays out for 4G global supremacy between Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and WiMax, another standard is emerging as a major challenger in China and beyond. Time Division-LTE (TD-LTE) is still well behind the other two standards in terms of deployment, but recent reports show that it is gaining ground.

Large-scale TD-LTE field trials in China will begin soon, according to Ericsson VP Ulf Ewaldsson. "The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and China Mobile will start large-scale field tests in the fourth quarter of this year. Ericsson will also take part," he said.

The trials will be part of the second stage of testing for the country's TD-LTE network. Ewaldsson said that the first stage and some small-scale field tests were already completed.

The report follows the first-ever demonstration of a TD-LTE end-to-end solution earlier this week at a China Mobile event in Shanghai. Ericsson showcased the system, which used ST-Ericsson devices and showed fast mobile broadband applications, such as video on demand and live video streaming.

TD-LTE is a 4G wireless mobile network standard developed by China Mobile, China's largest telecom operator. It builds upon the company's TD-based 3G standard and is largely compatible with LTE, a competing 4G standard that is gaining a foothold in European and American markets.

TD-LTE's main advantage over LTE is that it uses cheaper radio spectrum. Meanwhile, WiMax towers can be upgraded for use by TD-LTE at a relatively low cost.

Some wireless operators have already begun making moves to build TD-LTE networks outside China. Qualcomm has purchased spectrum in India that it may use for a TD-LTE compliant network, and the Russian operator Yota has decided to launch TD-LTE in frequencies it had previously set aside for WiMax.

"We understand that there are at least 100 operators that are interested in the performance of TD-LTE. Among these operators, we see two major camps. One includes operators with LTE spectrum that are considering using spectrum that is idle. Another includes operators that originally were using WiMax but are considering switching to TD-LTE," Ewaldsson said.

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