Telstra LTE versus Vividwireless LTE: what's the difference?

ARN breaks down the difference between the two LTE technologies

February is the month of Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless broadband technology with both Telstra and Vividwireless announcing they will roll out 4G LTE networks across Australia.

But now LTE has been thrust into the limelight do most people have any idea what the technology does and what 4G means for them? How will it affect the telcos that are rolling out this technology?

Let's start with a disputed point. Can LTE be truly classed as 4G? Ericsson claims it can but a Huawei representative called LTE “3.9G” because it doesn’t quite meet the specifications of the 4G standard.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) recently said LTE may be classed as 4G as long as the technology gave a "substantial level of improvement in performance capabilities with respect to the initial third generation systems deployed".

First major fact: While Telstra and Vividwireless both claim to be deploying 4G LTE, they are using two different types of technology.

Telstra has gone with Freqency Division Duplex LTE (FD-LTE) while Vivid is using Time Division Duplex LTE (TD-LTE).

Telstra said its LTE areas can expect download speeds of more than 20Mbps but the telco could not give a definite on what final theoretical speeds will be. It confirmed it was using FD-LTE technology from Ericsson for the network upgrade.

Ericsson said speeds achieved through its FD-LTE systems can be much higher than 20Mbps (based on examples around the world) but, again, could not disclose exactly what speeds Telstra customers can expect.

Meanwhile, Vividwireless is touting its TD-LTE can deliver 40-70Mbps download speeds and 4-7Mbps for upstream.

Chinese vendor, Huawei, is supplying the TD-LTE equipment.

Both service providers are using LTE technology but what is the difference between FD-LTE and TD-LTE? And should we care?

In terms of underlying technology, there really isn’t much difference between FD and TD. The key point of differentiation is the way it carries data across a given spectrum. FD operates on paired spectrums while TD uses unpaired spectrums.

To put it simply, FD-LTE requires two frequencies to facilitate two-way communication (download and upload) while TD-LTE only requires one channel.

While the latter is the newer version of LTE, its predecessor is the more popular choice as telcos usually carry paired spectrums readily - used for 2G and 3G networks - that can be reused. This saves telcos money on acquiring new spectrums.

This is exactly what Telstra has done. It is refarming its 1800MHz spectrum, used for 2G services, for its LTE network.

“Operators decide to launch FD or TD-LTE based on spectrum availability, that is, what spectrum they have on hand,” Ericsson strategic marketing manager, Warren Chaisatien, said. “Most of Telstra’s customer base consists of 3G customers so the 2G spectrum has a very light network load.”

Optus and Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (VHA) are expected to follow suit and implement FD-LTE systems.

But are these telcos missing out by deploying an older form of LTE?

Putting the issue of purchasing spectrums aside, the cost of rolling out either of those two technologies is comparable. There are just minor hardware differences, according to Huawei.

However, a key advantage of TD-LTE is the ability to customise download and upload speeds.

“You can set the TD-LTE system to suit the actual application that is being used for,” Huawei wireless marketing manager, Terry Walsh. “For example, if you want to upload more data, you can set a higher upload ratio to download.”

Not only that, but TD-LTE is backwards compatible with WiMax. This means WiMax operators can quickly and easily upgrade their networks to LTE.

Walsh conceded the technology’s performance is slightly inferior with that of FD-LTE. But the difference is negligible as both technologies are spectrally efficient.

While FD-LTE is deems a more popular choice among telcos, TD-LTE is on the rise. Walsh expects vendors to start producing more FD and TD-LTE compatible devices in the future as both technologies come to the fore.

Be it FD or TD, LTE is finally coming into play in the Australian telecommunications space. While rollout for Telstra and Vividwireless’ 4G networks aren’t going to be ready for the next 12-18 months, expect LTE to dominate telco industry discussions as competitors begin jumping on the bandwagon.

More about: ARN, Ericsson, etwork, Huawei, ITU, Optus, Telstra, VHA, Vodafone
References show all

Comments

David

1

There is a big difference between theoretical max mbps in a lab

condition.
And REAL WORLD through put of that tower having a few hundred

customers.

I honestly wish people would live in the read world of just how limited

wireless really is.
You cant offer more speed, with more customers without requiring more

of the frequency spectrum.

Do you honestly think companies like Telstra and Vivid are going to pay

hundreds of thousands of dollars to the government just for the extra

licensing frequencies needed?
No.
Telstra and Vivid will just cram everyone into one little frequency

band, giving everyone crap speed, high latency and most of all dropouts

and unreliability!

Wireless is no NBN killer, NBN will be the killer of Wireless!

Pragmatic

2

LTE = Long Term Evolution.

There are a number of LTE variants because there are a number of different evolutionary paths telcos are travelling down.

The right solution for a telco is determined by where they have been, not where they are going.

Everyone is going to the same place.

.
.

PS @David, the idea that wireless will kill NBN is unlikely. The idea that NBN will kill wireless is just implausible.

Jarrod

3

The figures Telstra are using about ~20mbps is a real world expectation. Super-duper theoretical maximums are more like 80-100mbps, but yes very unlikely.

I don't think we'll see any proper LTE networks until the digital switchover. 1800mhz will make a good supplement to NextG in urban areas, I would compare it to 3's initial 3G network rather than the next NextG.

Sean

4

Here in Brisbane none of the tv stations don't use uhf except sbs on 28 analog and i think 36 for digital but it wouldn't be a problem for using 700 mhz and 2.6 ghz in the CBD areas and the telstra 320u lte modem can run 2.6 ghz as well of the 1.8 ghz and CBD areas should be tryban for lte using 1.8 ghz 2.6 ghz and 700 mhz and the suburbs use 1.8 ghz and 700 mhz in areas without 700 mhz analog tv like they could start in Victoria where analog tv has shut down and start from there and telstra can switch on in those first

Sean

5

In the areas where the analog tv has been switched off and in the major cities the acme should let the 700 mhz licences get auction off and these areas would be a great start and 2.6 ghz in the same plan for more spectrum with the existing 1.8 ghz LTE band

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