updated 07:05 am EDT, Thu July 14, 2011
TD-LTE phones will arrive behind network launches
Production of TD-LTE enabled handsets may not begin until late in 2012, according to a report. The technology is being pushed by China Mobile, in particular, although the advantages of the TD-LTE 4G standard has also seen it picked up by at least an additional ten carriers worldwide to date. Apple is said to have reached an agreement with China Mobile to build a TD-LTE capable iPhone. However, even if China Mobile gets its TD-LTE network up and running by the end of 2011 as expected, Apple and other handset manufacturers will not be in a position to build the handsets until some time later.
According to Digitimes, chipmakers including Qualcomm and ST-Ericsson plan to build chipsets that support the two major LTE variants, LTE FDD and TD-LTE. The delay in getting handsets with the chipsets is because volume production of the new baseband chipsets won't begin until the first half od 2012.
LTE FDD supports a two-channel approach to sending and receiving data with one channel dedicated to each role. TD-LTE has certain advantages over LTE FDD as it can send and receive data over the same channel and split resources according to real-time demand. Another key advantage of the technology is that TDD spectrum is widely available and that 3G licenses often include TDD allotments.
Even though LTE networks are coming online around the world that will support either format, it is likely that handsets that are simultaneously LTE FDD and TD-LTE capable will also retain legacy 3G connectivity.