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Prospects for TD-LTE: Deployments, Market Drivers and Spectrum Band Review

Traditional FD operators could use TD-LTE as an opportunity create market segmentation.

Technology factors are driving the adoption of TD-LTE as WiMAX loses both momentum and consumer device support. However, we expect 2013 to be a key year for TD-LTE deployments. TD-LTE support is provided by all major equipment vendors, and device support is expected to increase significantly in 2013 as networks are launched in China, India and the USA. China Mobile, the world's largest operator by subscribers (approximately 703 million as of November 2012), carried out a large-scale TD-LTE trial in 2012 and is poised to launch a commercial network in 2013.

This report provides:

  • an outline of current and planned TD-LTE and FD-LTE deployments worldwide
  • recommendations for operators, vendors and regulators
  • analysis of TD-LTE drivers, including:
    • technology drivers
    • demand-side drivers
    • supply-side drivers.
  • a detailed review of TD-LTE bands, including information on:
    • bandwidth
    • availability
    • drivers and inhibitors of use.

COMPANY COVERAGE

The following companies are mentioned in this Report.

  • 21Vianet
  • Aero2
  • Aircel
  • Alcatel-Lucent
  • Antares Group
  • Asiaspace
  • Augere
  • Base Telecom
  • Bharti Airtel
  • Broadcom
  • China Mobile Hong Kong
  • Clearwire
  • Diamond Net
  • Enforta
  • Entel Chile
  • Ericsson
  • Etihad Etisalat (Mobily)
  • Hi3G Access (3)
  • Huawei
  • Mobile TeleSystems (MTS)
  • Motorola
  • Nawras
  • NBN
  • NT
  • Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN)
  • Omantel
  • Optus
  • PCCW
  • Qualcomm
  • Reliance Infotel
  • Rostelecom
  • Samsung
  • Saudi Telecom Company (STC)
  • SKY Brasil
  • Softbank Mobile
  • Sprint
  • Tikona Digital Networks
  • TOT
  • TransTeleCom
  • UK Broadband
  • Vainah
  • Voentelecom
  • Yota (Scartel)
  • ZTE

About the author

Chris Nicoll (Principal Analyst) is the lead analyst for Analysys Mason's Wireless Networks and Spectrum research programmes. His primary areas of specialisation include wireless access technologies, wireless traffic forecasting, mobile infrastructure and operator strategy. Chris has more than 20 years of expertise as a leader in defining telecoms strategy. Prior to joining Analysys Mason, Chris held Principal Analyst positions at ACG Research and Nicoll Consulting, where he developed marketing strategy and positioning for leading telecoms operators. At Yankee Group, Chris was a member of the Yankee Group Research Council and provided thought leadership to the research organisation. At Lucent and Alcatel-Lucent, Chris was director of strategic marketing, overseeing the company's corporate positioning and messaging, including public affairs and analyst relations. Chris also led the Telecom Infrastructure team at Current Analysis, where he developed a global analyst team, as well as oversaw consulting engagements and managed client relationships. Chris has also held marketing and network engineering positions at Netrix, Tymnet and Visual Networks. Chris holds a BS in Communications with minors in Computer Science, Psychology and Marketing from Florida State University.

Table of Contents

  • 5. Executive summary
  • 6. Executive summary
  • 7. About this report
  • 8. Recommendations
  • 9. Recommendations
  • 10. Market context: current and planned TD-LTE and FD-LTE deployments
  • 11. Technology overview: TD-LTE should be the 4G technology choice for operators that hold licences for unpaired spectrum
  • 12. TD-LTE networks are being rolled out around the world
  • 13. However, TD-LTE has been deployed far less widely than FD-LTE, and most LTE subscribers are on FD-LTE
  • 14. There are 14 operational TD-LTE networks worldwide at February 2013
  • 15. North America and Asia account for the highest proportion of all planned TD-LTE network commitments
  • 16. TD-LTE drivers
  • 17. Technology drivers
  • 18. Technology factors are the main driver of TD-LTE adoption in the operator community
  • 19. The natural migration path of WiMAX to TD-LTE is an important technology driver
  • 20. Market drivers
  • 21. A number of market factors - both demand-linked and policy-linked-provide momentum for TD-LTE deployments
  • 22. Large planned deployments by the China Mobile and Indian operators are driving the TD-LTE ecosystem
  • 23. Supply-side drivers
  • 24. Several commercial supply-side factors drive interest in TD-LTE
  • 25. Many EU states have assigned Band 38 (unpaired 2.6GHz) spectrum, which has commanded lower prices than paired 2.6GHz spectrum
  • 26. Three industry bodies support and promote the TD-LTE ecosystem
  • 27. Review of TD-LTE bands
  • 28. Some defined bands for TD-LTE have gained more traction than others
  • 29. Band 40 (2300-2400MHz) has generated the most interest for TD-LTE worldwide, particularly in Asia
  • 30. In Europe, Band 40 (2300-2400MHz) is viewed as instrumental for meeting RSPP targets for spectrum reallocation
  • 31. However, a flexible spectrum management approach will be required to make Band 40 available to MNOs in Europe
  • 32. There are also planned Band 40 (2300-2400MHz) TD-LTE network deployments in countries including Australia and India
  • 33. Band 38 (2.6GHz) will be a prime TD-LTE band because of its widespread availability and inevitable use by China Mobile
  • 34. Band 41 (2496-2690MHz) may generate interest because of its use by Clearwire (USA), and potentially by China Mobile
  • 35. Bands 33 (1900-1920MHz) and 34 (2010-2025MHz) are spectrum and ecosystem-limited LTE
  • 36. Bands 35 (1850-1910MHz) and 36 (1930-1990MHz) have not generated much interest from industry stakeholders
  • 37. Band 39 (1880-1920MHz) is on the deployment roadmap for China Mobile, but it is unlikely that it will be available worldwide
  • 38. Highest order spectrum in Band 42 (3400-3600MHz) and 43 (3600-3800MHz) offers specialised application opportunities
  • 39. Band 44 (703-803MHz) is the newest, and only sub-1GHz, TD-LTE band, but is not expected to be adopted outside China
  • 40. The FCC has recently opened up spectrum in the 3400-3600MHz range to small cells on a shared basis with naval radar
  • 41. About the author and Analysys Mason
  • 42. About the author
  • 43. About Analysys Mason
  • 44. Research from Analysys Mason
  • 45. Consulting from Analysys Mason

List of figures

  • Figure 1: Difference in spectrum use between FD and TD
  • Figure 2: TD-LTE network deployments, worldwide, 1Q 2013
  • Figure 3: FD-LTE network deployments, worldwide 1Q 2013
  • Figure 4: Operational TD-LTE deployments, worldwide, February 2013
  • Figure 5: TD-LTE planned network deployments, by region, 1Q 2013
  • Figure 6: Value of 2.6GHz unpaired spectrum compared with 2.6GHz paired spectrum, recent European auctions
  • Figure 7: TD-LTE industry bodies
  • Figure 8: Bands accepted as standardised by the 3GPP for TD-LTE
  • Figure 9: Spectrum usage in the 2300-2400MHz band in the EU
  • Figure 10: Planned TD-LTE networks, Band 40
  • Figure 11: Position of 3GPP Band 7 and 3GPP Band 38 on the radiofrequency spectrum
  • Figure 12: 3GPP bands in the frequency range 1710MHz-1990MHz
  • Figure 13: APT's 700MHz band plans
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