Ericsson gets serious about TD-LTE

It's not just Motorola anymore that is heavily focusing on the TD-LTE market (at least publicly). Ericsson, the world's largest wireless infrastructure vendor, is looking to gain more expertise is the area, and this week signed an MoU to create a strategic cooperation with Datang Telecom in China to develop TDD solutions and likely gain a foothold in China Mobile's planned TD-LTE network.

As part of the deal, Ericsson will begin integrating Datang's TD-SCDMA radio access network equipment into its own 3G offering. TD-SCDMA is China's homegrown 3G standard that China Mobile and others are using. TD-LTE is seen as the next generation of TD-SCDMA.

While the two vendors have had a joint research center in Beijing since January 2008, this relationship now aims squarely at giving Ericsson the experience in deploying LTE in TDD (Time Division Duplex) spectrum and building economies of scale as operators around the world begin to look at TDD to fill in their FDD (frequency division duplex) LTE networks.

So far, Motorola has been the only vendor to heavily tout LTE in TDD spectrum, and it is heavily leveraging its expertise in WiMAX, which operates in the TDD band, to do so. It has been targeting China Mobile for some time and is demonstrating TD-LTE capabilities in China Mobile's showcase TD-LTE network in Shanghai. It is aggressively gearing up for the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China, to showcase its momentum in TD-LTE.

Daryl Schooler, an analyst at Current Analysis, characterized the deal as important to Ericsson because it "signals an increased interest by the vendor in the TD-LTE market. While all of Ericsson's top competitors may have a presence in the Shanghai network, the TD-LTE opportunity, especially outside of China, remains wide open. Combining its ongoing success in the wireless infrastructure market, where Ericsson is currently the largest vendor, with TD-LTE products developed via its Datang relationship could drastically change the TD-LTE market in Ericsson's favor."

The first indication of Ericsson's TD-LTE leanings came in India, where it has been advocating--along with Qualcomm and its plans to bid on wireless broadband spectrum there--TD-LTE over WiMAX. This increased noise prompted the WiMAX Forum to release its next-generation plans for boosting speed and capacity.

Next week I'll feature an interview I had with the GSMA Association about the momentum of TD-LTE. The market's development and momentum are moving faster and may not be that far off from TD-LTE FDD deployments given the swathes of TDD spectrum lying fallow today and the fact that regulators are set to release more.

Another interesting piece of news has come from Alcatel-Lucent's announcement with EADS (see below) to create a public-safety LTE network that also integrates public-safety's Project 25 standard. Motorola is by far the leader in P25 and we have yet to hear any details regarding how it might leverage its expertise in both public safety and LTE. I suspect it has been waiting until the FCC's proposal for a nationwide public-safety network is finalized. But I wonder if this announcement will spur similar deals between public-safety vendors and commercial wireless vendors and prompt Motorola to begin articulating its position and expertise.--Lynnette