China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers. With 665 million customers, that’s would be like giving every man, woman, and child in the United States not just one, but two mobile phones. Anyway, like every other operator in the world, these guys want to roll out 4G LTE. Unlike most operators however, who will go with FDD LTE, China Mobile is going with TD LTE. What’s the difference? In layman’s terms: With FDD LTE, an operator sets up two pipes, one for uploading data, one one downloading data. With TD LTE, an operator has just one pipe, and said pipe alternates very rapidly between uploading data and downloading it. Why are there two different standards? Some people think one method is better than the other, but it mostly has to do with how spectrum is auctioned off by governments.
All that techno mumbo jumbo aside, what we want to share with you is a four minute video that was produced by Nokia Siemens Networks. It shows off the TD LTE trial that’s currently taking place in China. One of the most interesting scenes in the clip features a group of engineers who setup 200 laptops on a sidewalk, each with a TD LTE dongle, in order to test how well a cell tower can cope with that amount of load. It’s something that you can’t really appreciate until you watch it.
Who else has plans on using TD LTE? Sprint of all people. They’re going to transition some of their PCS spectrum, and eventually some of their iDEN spectrum, to TD LTE over the next two years. Luckily for consumers, most cellular modems on the market that support 4G LTE can actually handle both FDD LTE and TD LTE flavors, which means Sprint isn’t going to be stuck with offering Frankenstein devices that don’t have much support.