We posted on Monday about some LTE network launches which were announced at MWC, or in the week running up to the show. These were mainly FDD-based network plans. A few more network plans have emerged during the course of the week, with a welcome showing for TDD-based deployments.
Momentum continues to grow for the use of unpaired spectrum for LTE services, with a real mixed bag of countries having commercial networks - Brazil, Japan, Poland and Saudi Arabia are all up and running. In many cases these are examples of operators who do not have sufficient clear paired spectrum to launch FDD-based LTE networks, but own unpaired spectrum. The US will join the commercial TD-LTE market in 2012 with Clearwire's planned deployments, though China and India are the big markets to watch.
At MWC this week we heard from:
- China Mobile, which plans to have 20,000 TD-LTE base stations in operation on test systems by the end of this year and 200,000 base stations for a commercial service by the end of next year. It's TDD-based 3G services (using TD-SCDMA) have left it isolated globally, so the operator is keen to be one of the early volume players in TD-LTE. The operator also confirmed plans to launch dual-mode FDD/TDD LTE services in Hong Kong following its acquisition of 2.3 GHz spectrum there last month;
- UK Broadband, which switched on its TD-LTE network in London on Wednesday, with commercial services planned from May. The network uses Huawei kit and operates in the 3.5-3.6 GHz spectrum bands. UKBB holds 124 MHz of spectrum and will ultimately deliver TD-LTE across 6x20 MHz channels, perfectly highlighting that it is not just the "traditional" mobile operators who have cornered the market for usable spectrum;
- Bharti Airtel, which announced a contract with Nokia Siemens networks to build and manage its TD-LTE network in Maharahstra. The 2.3 GHz network will launch before the end of this year.
An honorable mention should also go to ZTE, who has been highlighting its TD-LTE achievements. It unveiled its multi-mode TD-LTE/WiFi pico base station and ran a live connection to 3 Sweden's dual-mode FDD/TDD LTE network in Stocholm. With a number of chipset vendors showcasing dual-mode LTE chipsets at the show, TD-LTE network opportunities are looking very positive.