Over 100 carriers invest in TD-LTE

The time division flavour of LTE, known as LTE TDD or TD-LTE, once thought to be of primary interest to the Chinese mobile market, is seeing increasingly strong adoption worldwide. Now more than 100 operators are investing in the technology, according to the most recent research from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

The organisation believes that of the 100 operators investing today in LTE TDD, 39 have commercially launched TD-LTE systems in 26 countries. While another 48 operators are currently deploying or planning networks. Factoring in those operators that are undertaking technology trials and studies, the GSA reckons that almost 120 operators globally are investing resources in LTE TDD.

Given the prevalence of frequency division or FDD LTE, of the current total of 39 commercially launched TD-LTE capable networks, 13 operators have launched converged systems using both TDD and FDD modes, which the GSA can now confirm as a growing industry trend. For example, some operators in India are deploying converged LTE networks using FDD 1800MHz (band 3) and TDD 2.3GHz (band 40) spectrum, which is a combination supported by 152 end user terminals.

In tandem with network adoption, the devices ecosystem for TDD has matured and expanded rapidly. Out of a total of 1,889 LTE user devices that have been introduced to the market, a total of 530, or 28 per cent of all LTE devices, which is 330 more than a year ago, can operate in TD-LTE mode. No less than 85 device manufacturers have launched LTE TDD products, the GSA said.

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Alan Hadden, President of GSA, said the smartphone is seeing strong developments in the sector. “A year ago, 52 per cent of LTE TDD devices were routers, including personal hotspots, while smartphones had only ten per cent share. Now routers make up 38 per cent of TDD products, and the smartphone category has grown its share to 35 per cent.”

Hadden said 184 TDD smartphone products have now been announced, which is 87 per cent more than the total in March 2014.

Encouragingly, for universal usage, 96 per cent of TDD smartphones are multimode, supporting one or more 3G system technologies, as well as TD-LTE.

The GSA forecasts that the global TDD share of LTE subscriptions, fuelled by its popularity in China with 14 million TD-LTE subscribers by end June 2014, will surge from around five per cent in the first quarter of 2014 to over 15 per cent by the end of 2014.

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