China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier, will invest $6.7 billion in rolling out TD-LTE this year, as it builds out 200,000 LTE TDD macro base stations by the end of 2013 and 390,000 by the end of 2014, reports Light Reading.
China Mobile is the leader and main driving force for the global deployment of TD-LTE, and has built pilot TD-LTE networks in 15 cities across China, including networks in Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Guangzhou which have achieved full coverage in main districts.
AlcaLu’s lightRadio division worked with China Mobile to develop a product called Metro Radio, which was launched at Mobile World Congress in February. Metro Radio houses two lightRadio cubes and can be mounted on street lights.
It’s being tested now in three of the operator’s 13 trial networks, says Michael Schabel, vice president of small cells at Alcatel-Lucent.
China Mobile is using cloud-based RAN (C-RAN), where baseband elements of the traditional base station are housed in a central location and connected to distributed antennas via fiber, which allows smaller cell sites.
“If we can take that [baseband] modem and keep it at the data center, then we can pool that modem resource. You can effectively get more opportunities to do advanced features with the pooled modem because you are doing shared scheduling,” says Schabel.
It’s not only the network architecture that China Mobile needs to consider: As Qiu Heng, vice president for LTE and WiMax products at Huawei Technologies, says, since the operator also has to work around its spectrum assets.
Like other vendors, Huawei offers pico and femtocell solutions, including one that combines Ethernet in the power cable to help cut the exorbitant cost of installing kit in Chinese urban buildings.
Its ATN 905 is the industry’s first LTE small cell router, suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It supports any media access, including Fiber, GPON and xDSL, and supplies power through Ethernet ports for plug-and-play and remote service deployment.
Huawei has also developed a small-cell management offering called CloudBB, which works with its outdoor product “to share baseband unit resources so [that] outdoor and indoor networks can better work together,” so cutting down on handover areas.
China Mobile is rolling out LTE TDD in three different frequency bands: at 1950MHz in Shanghai, and at 2300MHz and 2600MHz in other cities.
While FDD LTE networks run over paired spectrum, the asymmetric nature of LTE TDD will allow greater flexibility in capacity planning and allocation, especially as the volumes of data traffic increase, believes Qiu.
AlcaLu’s CTO Marcus Weldon says, “With LTE the network can become a video delivery network, with eMBMS [Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service] as the enabler. Integrated with small cell technology, eMBMS can enable video broadcast over LTE.”
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