LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE ASIA EXPO 2012: Executives from China Mobile and SoftBank today highlighted the success of their initial efforts with TD-LTE technology, although it was also noted that there are hurdles to be overcome – with devices a particular sticking point.
Speaking at the GTI Asia Conference, Xi Guohua, chairman of China Mobile, said that the company’s pilots have proved that “TD-LTE is capable of supporting big networks, with a large flow of data.” He said that the operator intends to “make further investments and further efforts to speed-up the implementation of TD-LTE,” with the intention to grow both its network size and its user base – although “that will depend on the maturity of the whole industry, especially the maturity of the terminals.”
With services currently only available using data devices, it was said that China Mobile will work with partners to launch smartphones “in the latter part of this year or next year.”
Ted Matsumoto, chief strategic advisor to the board of SoftBank, said that the Japanese number three now has more than 100,000 users for its services, following a commercial launch earlier this year.
Currently, SoftBank only offers one wireless hotspot device, with the intention to offer two more of these in the next quarter. In addition, in Q4 it is set to launch its first smartphone supporting TD-LTE, manufactured by Huawei, with the operator intending to move to the point where “most” of its smartphone range supports the connectivity.
Both executives also supported the need to support roaming, in order for LTE to become the enabler of international data services for travellers. China Mobile said it is looking for “more active exploration” of the options for data roaming.
And Matusmoto observed: “we are rather lonely. We would like to have more operators supporting TD-LTE through the world, so users can roam.”