China Mobile Moves in on Mobile Broadband via TD-LTE

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China Mobile plans to start testing a mobile broadband system based on TD-LTE (Time Division Duplex Long Term Evolution) technology, but a lack of chipsets stands in the way, the company's top executive said Tuesday.

"We hope to start testing very soon," said Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile's chairman and CEO, on the sidelines of the ITU Telecom Asia 2008 exhibition in Bangkok.

LTE technology is considered the next generation of wireless Internet technology, a possible successor to HSPA (high speed packet access) telecommunications technology and a potent rival for WiMax, the planned successor to Wi-Fi, commonly found today in places such as coffee shops and airports.

TD-LTE uses China's TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) technology, which is the basis for China Mobile's 3G network (third generation mobile telecommunications). That 3G network is heading towards a commercial launch, likely late this year.

China Mobile is working with the Vodafone Group and Verizon Wireless to test a combination of TD-LTE and the LTE-FDD (the Frequency Division Duplex version of LTE) technology Vodafone and Verizon hope to roll out.

The three companies announced a plan to work together in February. One reason they chose to combine efforts was to make both technologies less expensive by promoting their combination in chipsets and other components.

Mobile phone chip maker Qualcomm and other companies are working on chipsets with TD-LTE and LTE-FDD on board, Wang said.

The ability of chipsets to support both technologies will also allow greater roaming across countries using the different technologies in their networks. A Verizon subscriber, for example, wouldn't have to switch handsets if they visited China, if chipsets carried both technologies.

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