China's 4G Technology to go Global
China's homegrown fourth-generation (4G) telecommunication technology is expected to go global and be widely adopted by 2015, with countries in Africa and Latin America the most likely to use the technology, according to industry experts.
The Time Division-Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) technology is the next-generation telecommunication standard that China Mobile Communications Co is promoting.
Under ideal conditions, TD-LTE can easily reach download speed of more than 150 megabytes per second, much faster than third-generation (3G) TD-SCDMA technology.
"Many international operators have contacted China Mobile and expressed a willingness to adopt TD-LTE networks," Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer at the China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR), told China Daily.
He said the most likely partners in building TD-LTE networks may come from Africa and Latin America, as many countries on those continents have a good relationship with China both economically and politically. "They are more likely to accept China's technology, and TD-LTE may even help them make a leap forward directly from the 2G era to the 4G stage," Chen said.
The sound development of TD-LTE is important. The successful use of the technology in China will increase confidence in the product, remove any doubt overseas operators may have, and encourage them to deploy TD-LTE networks, according to Chen.
Along with a number of other European telecom carriers, Poland's mobile operator Aero2 announced in November that it would build the world's first commercial TD-LTE network as early as this year. China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless operator by subscribers, said 15 TD-LTE trial networks have already been deployed in a number of countries.
Another nine test networks, in cooperation with global telecom operators, will be added during 2011, said Wei Bin, chief of the network research department with the China Mobile Research Institute, at a forum.
However, in mature markets, the promotion of TD-LTE technology will be difficult, since competition from other 4G technologies is harsh, said Chen of the CATR.
China Mobile is pinning great hopes on the new technology, as the company intends to use it to snatch market share both at home and overseas.
Its upgraded version, called TD-LTE Advanced, was selected as one of six international 4G standards by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Chongqing municipality in October.
It's predecessor, TD-SCDMA, failed to achieve that goal because it was inferior to rival 3G technologies such as WCDMA in terms of maturity, according to analysts, and its use was limited to within China.
The globalization of TD-LTE technology is proceeding well, and almost all the major international telecom companies have pushed forward its development, said Tina Tian, chief telecom analyst with Gartner's China office.
Foreign telecom giants such as Ericsson and Alcatel Lucent, as well as domestic companies such as Huawei, ZTE and Datang, have participated in technical trials of TD-LTE technology with China Mobile since the end of 2008.
Moreover, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on Friday that it had approved wide-ranging tests of TD-LTE technology in six major Chinese cities, indicating that the technology is edging towards the commercial-use phase in China. The six cities are Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiamen. However, a specific timetable for the pilot was not revealed on Friday.
China Mobile said in a statement on Friday that the upcoming large-scale tests are aimed at exploring the commercial potential of the technology, and to provide impetus for international telecom carriers to adopt and deploy the new network.
Gartner's Tian said that China Mobile may also use the chance to enhance its dominant position in the domestic industry.
"Compared with China Unicom's WCDMA and China Telecom's CDMA2000, China Mobile's TD-SCDMA did not gain the upper hand in the 3G market, so the company has quickened the pace of promoting 4G technology in the hope of maintaining technology superiority," Tian said.
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