China Mobile wants to test LTE ASAP

The world's largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, China Mobile, said it was eager to begin testing 4G TD-LTE soon, a time division duplex (TDD) version of LTE that will be backward compatible with the struggling Chinese 3G standard TD-SCDMA. However, the lack of chipsets are holding back its plans.

The TD-LTE specs are scheduled to be done by the end of 2008 when the primary LTE system architecture for the frequency division duplex (FDD) is complete. And China Mobile appears to be a driving force to pushing vendors to get equipment out quickly. It's no wonder since it appears the Chinese government will mandate that China Mobile deploy TD-SCDMA as a 3G standard. Recently, the head of China Mobile admitted TD-SCDMA technology was "a few years behind" WCDMA and CDMA2000 because of problems with handsets. China Mobile has already spent some $2 billion on trials using TD-SCDMA in 10 Chinese cities since April. As of early July this year, three months into its commercial TD-SCDMA trials, China Mobile only had 52,000 users, of which 8,000 were paying for the service.

Many telecom experts believe China's operators will essentially leapfrog 3G as the government continually delays tenders and opt for a 4G deployment like LTE.

For more:
- read Unstrung

Related stories:
How far will China go to make TD-SCDMA a success?
China pushes for TD-SCDMA

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