Airtel 4G with ZTE: Business opportunities in TD-LTE in Indian telecom market

Telecom Lead India: 4G / LTE services will be launched by
Bharti Airtel, India’s leading mobile operator, in Kolkata today. Industry has
been debating about the business opportunities and why Reliance Industries is
taking more time to zero in on the best technology and business plan for its
BWA launch. Telecom Lead is publishing a whitepaper from ZTE, the LTE network
provider for Airtel’s 4G launch in Kolkata, to share the business opportunities
of TD LTE.

Growth in mobile data traffic has brought new profit to
mobile operators across the world. Statistics show that data revenue of
Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Vodafone and other mainstream operators has
increased by an average of 30 percent. Therefore, much attention is now being
focused on data and broadband services. Obtaining more spectrum resources and
increasing spectrum efficiency has become of great importance.

Spectrum resources for Time Division Duplex (TDD) are
abundant. 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz are the most common TD spectrum bands for TD-LTE,
but most of these bands are not being used. TDD spectrum resources are
available in many countries and available for many operators. Of the 300
operators who have TDD spectrum resources, 66 percent own 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz

Promising Market Opportunities

TD-LTE is attracting leading operators around the world.
Many of the top 500 telecom operators own a chunk of TDD spectrum and are
vigorously pushing forward TD-LTE development.

China Mobile owns 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz TDD bands and is
leading in the promotion of TD-LTE. After completing the fourth phase of its
TD-SCDMA network construction, China Mobile will boast the world’s largest 3G
network with 220,000 TD base stations by Q1 2011. The operator will call for
bids on the evolution of its TD-SCDMA networks in the first half of 2011. Its
commercial TD-LTE network is expected to be deployed in one to two years.

Mainstream European operators Vodafone, Deutsche
Telekom, KPN, and O2 have all acquired TDD spectrum and are actively
researching TD-LTE technologies and application models. Deutsche Telekom
completed its trial TD-LTE network in the second half of 2010 and has started
testing the network.

In June 2010, Qualcomm won India’s 2.3GHz Broadband
Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auction for TDD development in four regions of
the country. Qualcomm has promised to set up a joint venture to build an LTE
network. This demonstrates that Qualcomm has TD-LTE in its strategic plan.

Mobile operators in the U.S. including AT&T, Verizon,
and America Mobil have promised to support TD-LTE. Leading operators in Japan
and Korea have also played an active role in promoting TD-LTE. Other
operators with WiMAX, PHS (1900-1920MHz), and TD-SCDMA will also choose TD-LTE
as their migration path.

TDD spectrum is easy to acquire, and there is less competitive
pressure in acquiring it. The price of TDD spectrum in each country is much
lower than that of FDD spectrum. Because FDD spectrum is very limited and
expensive, more and more operators are considering TDD for feature-rich data
services and hotspot area coverage.

Using time division technique, TD-LTE allows flexible
timeslot allocation in the downlink and uplink. This meets both voice and
asymmetric data needs and greatly increases spectrum efficiency. TD-LTE can
share the same core network with an FDD system and can support flexible
networking. It can serve as an independent network for hotspots and blind area
coverage or as a supplement to the FDD system for data services. LD-LTE has
promising and widespread applications.

Fast-Growing TD-LTE Industry

Driven by operators, standardization organizations,
equipment vendors, and chipset makers around the world, the TD-LTE industry is
growing rapidly. Members of the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance
include China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone Orange, T-Mobile, AT&T, as well
as 29 mobile network and terminal suppliers including Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung,
and ZTE. Together these companies are actively promoting standardization of
TD-LTE. So far, 3GPP R9 specifications have been completed, and the
standardization progress of TD-LTE has kept pace with that of LTE FDD. Testing
of TD-LTE technology and networking organized by the LTE/SAE Trial Initiatives
(LSTI) was first conducted by China Mobile and has produced favorable results.

The TD-LTE industry chain has been established and is
growing fast. It comprises chipset providers, terminal providers,
infrastructure equipment manufacturers, and testing instrument providers.

All chipset providers plan to launch 3G/LTE multimode
chipsets in early 2011. The development of LTE chipsets drives the development
of terminal products. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and Shanghai Bell will
unveil a number of LTE terminals in 2011. LTE TDD/FDD dual-mode terminals will
be the mainstream offerings, and this will further promote the flexible
deployment of TD-LTE.

Equipment manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens,
Alcatel-Lucent, ZTE, and Huawei have all developed TD-LTE series equipment that
can be applied in different scenarios. These products have been tested in the
TD-LTE trial networks of China Mobile and overseas operators. Presently, they
support 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz bands and will support 1.9GHz and 2.1GHz bands in the

Test instrument manufacturer Anritsu has announced its
MT8820C will support TD-LTE radio testing. Rohde & Schwarz and Anite
also provide many types of testing and measuring equipment.

As the industry chain matures, commercial TD-LTE is just
around the corner.


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