NSN, China Mobile test TD-LTE femtocells

As LTE continues to gather industry momentum, vendors and operators are turning their attention to the problem of indoor coverage, which has dogged 3G deployments worldwide.

On Monday, the world’s biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, China Mobile, said that it had partnered with infrastructure firm Nokia Siemens Networks to demonstrate a TD-LTE femtocell, ensuring decent indoor coverage for the 4G networking platform.

NSN’s Beijing-based research team demonstrated a live streaming video downlink application using a femtocell prototype in China Mobile’s Research Institute laboratory. The demonstration achieved throughputs which exceed the typical xDSL speed currently possible via residential broadband connections, the company claims.

“User habits indicate that the majority of mobile broadband capacity will be consumed inside homes and offices where coverage is typically lower than outdoor spaces,” said Huang Xiaoqing, general manager of China Mobile Research Institute. “Miniature wireless base stations like Femtocells can improve the indoor service experience of our customers. Further more, TD-LTE Femtocells can fully leverage the advantages of TDD frequency, provide a fast and flexible indoor coverage solution and effectively manage network capacity and cost.”

With equipment spending by Chinese mobile operators estimated to hit $41bn over the next two years, vendors are falling over themselves to accommodate the country’s nascent technology initiatives. NSN recently threw its weight behind TD-LTE, the Time Division flavour of the next generation wireless platform based on LTE.

China was always the most likely scenario for deployment of TD-LTE, where it is backwards compatible with China’s own homegrown 3G technology, TD-SCDMA. And NSN has already cleaned up a decent portion of the investment funds currently available in the Chinese market, racking up framework agreements valued at RMB7.6bn (Eur880m) from China Mobile and China Unicom, to purchase 2G and 3G mobile equipment and services during 2009.

Under the framework agreements NSN will roll out WCDMA networks for China Unicom in 11 provinces across China, and will provide China Mobile with TD-SCDMA and GSM networks.

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