Use TD-LTE for wireless broadband service?

Posted on August 26, 2010 | View 1707 | Comment : 8

Technology may not be mature enough to satiate the needs of Indian telcos

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As the telecom players who have bid huge amounts to win broadband wireless access spectrum make their technology choice, they have to balance the need to roll out the service fast, minimising the time taken to monetise the spectrum they have already paid for, and to adopt a technology that is future-proof and compatible with their inter-connect partners’ choice. The choice, essentially is between WiMax and the time division version of long-term evolution (LTE), which is yet to be fully validated. Prof Arogyaswami Paulraj of Stanford University, who has made significant contributions to developing MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) techniques used in mobile WiMAX, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan this year, offers his perspective. 
TD-LTE technology, which is one of the candidates for wireless broadband services in India, is being delayed. Now, it is time to seriously consider if TD-LTE is the best technology that can serve as growth driver for India, a country with a great potential for wireless broadband, and if the technology is worth waiting for until the ecosystem becomes mature. 
TD-LTE lies on the evolution path of TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access), a technology driven by the Chinese government, and is, therefore, widely known as a standard originating from China. Most patents related to TD-LTE are owned by Chinese vendors and top positions in the standards bodies related to TD-LTE are dominated by the Chinese, which means that standardisation can be delayed or specifications can be modified in their favour. 
If TD-LTE keeps growing this way, the whole telecommunication industry could end up relying on Chinese vendors. It is questionable if TD-LTE ecosystem formed by Chinese vendors is robust and sustainable enough to continue its technology development and widespread adoption. 
So far, only a few operators, including China Mobile, have expressed their will to adopt TDLTE technology. Considering the time needed to develop TD-LTE products, the earliest availability of commercial products in the market will be around 2012. 
Although China Mobile is the largest mobile operator by subscriber base, it is still doubtful how many subscribers they can have by 2012 when wireless broadband market enters into a mature stage. 
This state of affairs is a cause for worry and anxiety for Indian operators who have finally acquired BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum. A total of $8.2 billion was paid by the six winners of the BWA auction. According to a recent news report, they have to pay interest costs of about $36 million every month. Winners of BWA auction in India are eager to recover this huge amount of investment by launching their services as early as possible. 
The delay affects not just for the industry. Telecom being an infrastructure sector, this delay contributes to the national loss in terms of opportunity and development. 
It is a source of worry for the government as well. The government plans to raise India’s broadband subscriber base to 100 million from its current level of 7 million (penetration 0.6%) by 2014. 
By raising its broadband penetration rate, the government aims to boost the economy’s performance, as the plan is expected to invigorate the country’s telecommunication industry and create new jobs. The World Bank recently announced that a 10% growth of broadband penetration leads a 1.3% increase in the GDP of a nation. 
TD-LTE, currently at its initial stage of development, seems not mature enough to satiate the needs of Indian operators and the government. Even in China, some tests are underway but no commercial base stations or terminals are available at this point. 
India is one of the countries with the most potential for growth. Will India take a chance to leapfrog its economic status by expanding broadband coverage with mature wireless technology available today or continue to remain waiting for tomorrow for a new and untested technology and thus, lose the opportunity of faster economic growth? In my view, the former is the choice which this country needs and will go for.

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Comments (8)

  • As far as technology is concerned WI-MAX is the best technology for BWA. WIMAX is better than TD-LTE because the spectral efficiency of WIMAX is higher (than TD-LTE. However TDE-LTE has the advantage of inter technology hand-over for seamless mobility accross any network e.g GPRS, EDGE. But in the 10 Mhz band WIMAX has much more potential to deliver 4G services like streaming video & guaranteed QOS through SLA. TD-LTE is still under development stage and it may take 1-2 years to commercially launch 4G services on this platform. LTE network is more complex multi-layer network burdened with proprietora 3G cellular protocols. On the othe other hand WIMAX is simple based on IETF protocols with fewer nodes and device requirements & optimised for data. So WIMAX has time to market advantage for ...See More

    Posted by SANJAY RAY , JTO at BSNL | 30 Aug, 2010

  • please sir give me a chance

    Posted by ravindra kumar , Suport Engineer at B.S.N.L. | 27 Aug, 2010

  • hardware & Networking Engineering

    Posted by Ravindra kumar , Suport Engineer at B.S.N.L | 27 Aug, 2010

  • TD-LTE is not an exclusive Chinese vendor development. It is the TDD version of LTE. TDD version of LTE did not get momentum, because traditional TELCO's rarely use TDD system- there are couple of reasons and the main one is they are voice centric. TDD on the other hand ideal for data and should be a natural choice. Because of ease of channel estimation and lower HW requirement complexity of MIMO implementation is easy in TDD and hence much better spectral efficiency. Coming to Voice over TD-LTE, with jitter tolerant Codecs it should be able to provide speech quality better that R=80 or MOS =4.5 easily. So there is nothing wrong going TDD path of LTE for India. In my opinion it should be natural choice.

    Posted by Prasanta Datta,Principal Consultant at ICP Wireless Services|27 Aug, 2010

  • It is too early to comment until technology gets stablised and we estimate market trends and requirements.

    Posted by M.S.Rana | 26 Aug, 2010

  • TD-LTE is a 4G technology and yes still not matured enough or in other words we dont' have a sustainable standrad for it. In India we don't even have 3G services launced yet by Private Telco' talkin about 4G is well beyon the scope as of now.
    Sprint/USA has just launched its 1st 4G service based on CDMA and many more looking forward for it.
    1xEVDO Rev.B also can be a good choice but that's also not implemented anywhere in the world yet and no telco has yet claimed to be compliant with that.
    Yes, India is the country of hope and full of growth opportunity with day by day increasing tech savys.
    We should wait for the right time to invest more in the Technology.
    I'm dying to use 3G in India so thinking about 4G will make me crazzzzy!!

    Posted by Trilok Kataria | 26 Aug, 2010

  • Absolutely it is the right choice to with TD-LTE

    Posted by satish mohan rath | 26 Aug, 2010

  • It seems to be quite interesting. And I think it will be competitive and usefule for the Indian atmosphere.

    Posted by Ansan | 26 Aug, 2010

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