It took six years for China Mobile to strike a deal with Apple over the iPhone. In all that time China Mobile’s then-boss Wang Jianzhou met with Steve Jobs just once.
Entries in TD-LTE (18)
Wimax has lost the race against LTE, but it’s still part of the 4G wars.
Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), the TD-LTE advocacy group, has reportedly made the mass conversion of WiMAX operators one of its top priorities for the year.
The group, whose members include Softbank, China Mobile and Sprint, sees the several hundred WiMAX operators and their spectrum as potentially valuable assets in their emerging competition with the dominant FDD standard.
According to China’s Sina Tech news, a GTI pre-Mobile World Congress meeting in Barcelona last Friday specified the need to win over Wimax operators to help build scale for the standard. They also agreed to target large FDD-LTE operators and emerging market carriers.
Of the more than 250 commercial LTE networks in operation, only 28 are using TD-LTE. Another 40 networks are under construction.
More than 450 Wimax networks are in operation, according to the WiMAX Forum, but the technology, which was the earliest 4G standard, suffers from a continual stream of defections. The forum agreed in November on a technology path that would allow WiMAX operators to harmonize their networks with TD-LTE in the 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz and 3.5GHz bands.
According to Sina, the WiMAX operators are seeking to evolve to TDD via WiMAX 2.1 rather than junking their existing deployments. It adds:
WiMAX and TDD are close in technology terms, and moreover TD-LTE is rich in spectrum resources.
It also points out that while TD-LTE is the “the only exit for WiMAX operators,” the massive amount of available TD frequencies are attractive to FDD operators, who have limited spectrum left.
The Japanese government announced last month that it planned to allocate 3.5GHz spectrum for TDD to the country’s three 4G operators by year-end.
The GTI meeting agreed a 2014 development plan, committing the group to “fully guid[ing] WiMAX operators to TD-LTE” and to “induce major FDD” and emerging market operators to adopt the standard.
If you’ve followed YTL’s pronouncements over the years, the news of its TD-LTE trials has the air of inevitability.
YTL execs have never made a secret of their willingness to move off Wimax. Hong Leong Investment Bank's analyst Tan J Young speculates that the company, which operates the Yes brand, may lobby to acquire all of Asiaspace’s TD frequencies, which would give it a competitive 60MHz in total.
This isn’t the first Wimax defection and certainly won’t be the last. Russia’s Yota made the switch to FDD-LTE in dramatic fashion two years ago, and Clearwire is now owned by Softbank, Japan’s TD-LTE champion.
But a senior official from China’s MIIT, the state sponsor of the TD 3G and 4G programmes, is confident of an avalanche of Wimax operators joining the mobile standard.
Wen Ku, head of MIIT’s communications development department, says some 400 Wimax operators worldwide “will upgrade to TD-LTE, which is called Wimax 2.1.”
OK, so he’s counting every upgrade as a convert; Wimax Forum opened that door in 2012. But 400 is a big number, and the TD business case is vastly more appealing than Wimax’s. Those operators allowed to make the leap will surely do so.
At year-end 2013, 26 commercial TD-LTE networks were operating in 21 countries, with another 40 operators rolling out.
Huawei and ZTE have once again won the biggest share of a major Chinese telecom tender, despite being undercut by Nokia Siemens.
In what is certain to be the largest telecom tender this year, China Mobile handed out 20 billion yuan ($3.27b) in contracts to build its TD-LTE network in 100 cities.
Nokia Siemens surprised the industry when it was revealed during the tender that it had bid the lowest price - the first time a foreign vendor had done so. Despite that, it won no more business than other foreign players, and much less than the two large local firms.
With what appears to be immaculate stage management, Huawei and ZTE emerged with 26% each of the total tender, while the three foreign vendors, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel Shanghai Bell, were allocated 11% apiece. Small Chinese players Datang, Potevio, New Postcom and Fiberhome picked up the remainder.
Chinese telecom news site C114 noted that the 67% share won by local firms was down slightly from their 70% share of China Mobile's trial network last year.
The market share number is more than academic. EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht has warned he would push ahead with his subsidies case against Huawei and ZTE if European firms did not win a fair share of Chinese domestic contracts.
Chinese firms have a 25% share of the EU market, according to CICC telecom analyst Chen Haofei. The 33% of these contracts that have gone to European firms are probably enough to stave off De Gucht's attentions.
As well as the size - 207,000 base stations - this contract is strategically important as the first large-scale tender for the China Mobile's 4G network. The major winners are best-placed to pick up follow-up contracts as the network expands over the next decade or so.
Qualcomm-powered devices have dominated China Mobile’s just-completed TD-LTE tender, sweeping aside local firms.
The 200,000-unit tender was not large by Chinese standards, and comprised mostly data cards and MiFi devices, but is significant as China Mobile’s biggest single procurement of 4G terminals to date.
Qualcomm won primarily because of its ability to support ‘5 modes and 10 bands’ (the modes are GSM, W-CDMA, HSPA, TD-LTE and FDD-LTE; the bands vary from market to market). Moreover, the US firm last year gave a big assist to China Mobile’s plan to make TD fully global by declaring that all of its chips would support both modes of LTE.
An executive from one firm complained that at the current stage, the market was all about data cards and CPE, which didn’t require “all modes”.
He said the 4G handset era, still a year or so away, would allow domestic chip players to play to their strengths in pricing, but also called on operators “to give us more opportunities and time.”
In the meantime, for focus for all three firms would be on developing multi-mode single chip products, the article says.