CSL Hong Kong ready to go live with LTE

Leading Hong Kong operator CSL is well on its way to 4G, with plans to launch LTE commercially within the next year.

Speaking to in Hong Kong recently, Christian Daigneault, CTO of CSL, and Jack Wu, vice president of wireless global marketing at ZTE, the equipment vendor supplying the 4G infrastructure, revealed that CSL will have a commercial LTE network by late 2010 to early 2011.

The carrier launched a commercial trial of LTE in November 2009, and already has 40 cell sites where LTE is already operational. experienced a live demonstration of the technology in lab conditions which gave some indication of the performance. The operator claims it doesn’t need to roll out LTE everywhere as HSPA+ will pick up the slack in areas of less demand.

CSL has 127MHz of spectrum to play with in the Hong Kong market, which is more spectrum than all its competitors – the closest rivals being PCCW and 3 with 89MHz of spectrum apiece. According to Daigneault, this translates into less congestion and higher data throughput, and is also where ZTE’s experience in SDR (software defined radio) comes in useful as it gives CSL the advantage of being able to exploit multiple spectrum frequencies. “Radio was a limitation in the past, but not anymore,” Daigneault said.

CSL also ripped out all its legacy infrastructure –provided by Nokia Siemens Networks – and rolled out an all IP network ahead of the LTE launch. As a result, Daigneault claims it does not have the capacity constraints suffered by O2 in the UK and AT&T in the US, as the network is designed for heavy data usage. “Latency will be the differentiator,” Daigneault said.

The CSL CTO revealed that only 20 per cent of its current data usage comes from handsets, the other 80 per cent comes from dongles, which are turning into a significant success story.

“We have to think about the future – between ten and 20 per cent of users will put heavy demands on the network, so carriers will need to invest in LTE to meet this demand,” said ZTE’s Wu. “However, there are still problems with the LTE ecosystem, most notably in the lack of terminals available,” he added.

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