In our view there are four key drivers: network, devices, international deployments, and deployments by China – the largest telecom market.
On the international network side, the two standards FD and TD are very similar – both OFDMA. Most vendors are Shutting Down their Wimax Ventures and are shifting to TD-LTE. TD is designed for use in unpaired spectrum, is likely to have better scale, and is arriving in time to help address the surge in wireless data traffic. Softbank in Japan has begun commercial deployment, Bharti and RIL – Infotel Broadband are in the process of rolling out in BWA spectrum in India (going straight to TD).
On the handset-device side, the key is the commercial deployment of the multi-mode chipset from Qualcomm the 8960 chipset – scheduled for July 2012. This is a multi-band, multi-mode, lower power, system on chip architecture. We see this development as
directionally positive as it supports 2G, 3G, and 4G in all the major standards, including FD and TD-LTE.
This chipset is initially designed for the high-end but could be widely adopted as it would allow vendors and operators to benefit from much better economies of scale and less operator/country specific customization of handsets.
iPad with LTE Chipsets Apple’s iPad that is expected to go on sale in March will support LTE. The move to launch an LTE iPad before the iPhone is because the tablet has a bigger battery and can better support the requirements of the technology. This highlights that developing low cost LTE handsets with a voice offering is not going to be easy.
China LTE Perspective The MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) is conducting a seven-city TD-LTE trial, in conjunction with a demonstration network in Beijing. The fact that it is the Ministry operating the trial suggests the importance of TD-LTE from a technology policy perspective.
In India, RIL-Infotel Broadband’ initial plans are likely to be data focussed and move to voice will be gradual in line with the progress on the TD-LTE ecosystem. RIL – Infotel Broadband is going to source Towers and Fiber Infrastructure from Reliance Communications.