Japanese mobile operator, Softbank, will adopt the TD-LTE network for data offload starting from February, making Japan the first market in Asia where a commercial TD-LTE network has been deployed.
Japan's largest mobile operator, DoCoMo, has already been operating an LTE service called "Xi" since the end of 2010, but Softbank’s new network will be the first one based on the TD-LTE specification.
Already operating a personal handy-phone system (PHS), Softbank’s Wireless City Planning unit has announced a February launch of its Advanced eXtended Global Platform (AXGP) based on the 20MHz channel of the TDD (Time-Division Duplex) spectrum.
TD-LTE (Time-Division Long-Term Evolution) is a 4G mobile-telecommunications technology and standard that originates from China.
Chinese vendor, Huawei, expects that as many as 70 per cent of TDD networks will be deployed as extension networks by LTE FDD operators.
With China Mobile expected to launch its own TD-LTE network in the first half of 2013, Ovum Telco Strategy Senior Analyst, Nicole McCormick, feels that the TDD spectrum has now become "extremely valuable" to mobile operators.
“Mobile operators should try to have TDD spectrum in reserve for future data requirements wherever possible,” she said.
FDD-TDD LTE-enabled smartphones are expected to be provided to Softbank via Huawei by August.
Other operators outside Asia that have implemented commercial TD-LTE networks are Sky in Brazil, Aero2 in Poland, and Etisalat and STC in Saudi Arabia, according to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).
Domestic telcos Telstra and Optus have already been running trials using the LTE technology, but are currently focused on the FD-LTE (Frequency-Division Long-Term Evolution) specification.