Low spectrum costs and improving economies of scale mean a standalone TD-LTE network actually has 13 percent lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than the FDD flavor of LTE, according to ABI Research.
Unpaired spectrum used for TD-LTE has traditionally been viewed as less attractive than FDD spectrum and therefore sold for 44 percent less, ABI said.
Further, significant TD-LTE contract awards in China, the United States, Russia and Japan have slashed the cost of equipment, helping TD-LTE gear reach cost parity with LTE-FDD gear. Leading the charge is China Mobile's recent announcement that it would spend $3.3 billion on rolling out 207,000 TD-LTE base stations.
In addition, U.S. operator Sprint (NYSE:S) CFO Joe Euteneuer said during an investor conference earlier this month that Sprint expects to deploy TD-LTE technology across 5,500 Clearwire cell sites by the end of the year using Clearwire's 2.5 GHz spectrum and will continue to roll that technology out across the nation next year.
Globally, there are 60 TD-LTE deployments, of which 21 have commercially launched, according to ABI. Notable TD-LTE commercial services are being ramped up by Japan's SoftBank, India's Airtel and Australia's Optus, ABI said.
TD-LTE offers significant deployment flexibility. The technology "can be deployed as a complete network solution, as a hybrid FDD/TDD LTE network, a backhaul solution, or a network extension for a WiMAX network," the research firm said.
Further, TD-LTE also offers impressive savings in backhaul. ABI said the technology can provide a 33 percent savings over point-to-point microwave solutions and a 43 percent savings over fiber.
In ABI's competitive assessment of TD-LTE suppliers, Huawei topped the firm's "Innovation vs. Implementation" ranking, followed by NSN and Ericsson. "Huawei's success in securing over 36 deployment contracts, strong IP holdings and R&D investment" benefitted the vendor, ABI said.
- see this ABI release
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