LTE stole the limelight on the opening day of the Mobile Asia Congress in Hong Kong today, with CSL and SingTel announcing trials of the next-gen wireless technology.
Hong Kong-based CSL looks set to claim the prize of Asia’s first commercial trial. CEO Tarek Robbiati said that the operator would begin an LTE trial “shortly” in Kowloon Bay.
Robbiati said the Telstra-owned operator was ready for LTE, thanks to its all-IP HSPA+ upgrade earlier this year, but would not say when it planned to launch service, “because we like to surprise our competitors.”
CSL will also open an LTE technology center in Kowloon Bay next week, Robbiati said.
SingTel announced a plan to conduct regional field trials of LTE technology across Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore slated to start in the first half of 2010.
The trials, the first in these territories, will be held in collaboration with local affiliates Optus, Globe Telecom and Telkomsel.
Six vendors – Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Nokia Siemens and ZTE –have been invited to take part, although SingTel did not specify which suppliers would work in which markets.
The trials are scheduled to take place over metropolitan areas over the next six to nine months.
“The trials will also lay the groundwork to establish a regionally compatible LTE network to facilitate growth in the mobile broadband business for the SingTel Group,” the company said in a statement.
An Optus spokesperson said it was yet to be decided when or if a formal tender process would be scheduled.
Under the trials, LTE base stations and core network equipment will be installed for detailed field tests that will evaluate the technology which promises a peak speed of 340 Mbps.
“With our footprint of regional associates serving 273 million customers in eight markets, we are in an excellent position to drive the adoption of LTE technology in the region and beyond,” said SingTel’s International Group CEO Lim Chuan Poh.
In a new report, IDC says it expects a select group of 3G operators – most likely DoCoMo, KDDI, eMobile, CSL, the PCCW/HGC joint venture, Telecom New Zealand and China Mobile Hong Kong – to pioneer investment in LTE networks.
“The current propaganda of LTE infrastructure is being concentrated on developed APEJ [Asia-Pac excluding Japan] markets, where converged handsets with HSPA and Wi-Fi are becoming the new dominant end-user mobile device, but this attention is not addressing another huge opportunity in APEJ, which is the pent-up demand of under-served broadband households,” said IDC’s Asia/Pacific telecommunications research director Bill Rojas said.
IDC estimates that in markets such as the Philippines, the realistic addressable market for LTE could be as high or even higher than one-third of all households.