As the demand for high speed networks grows daily, technology like LTE has grown in leaps and bounds to keep up with new challenges. Time Division Long Term Evolution, or TD-LTE, is one such technology that is increasingly being used to provide the high bandwidth levels needed for today’s smartphones and tablets.
TD-LTE vs FDD-LTE
LTE technology includes a few different variants, with the two primary ones being TD-LTE and FDD-LTE. It uses the spectrum differently to FDD, which is often just referred to as LTE. Regular LTE transfers data in different channels for each direction of data flow, while TD-LTE transmits and receives data alternately using the same channel. This allows operators to provide the LTE service at a lower cost and higher efficiency, due to freeing up extra spectrum space. For this reason, many providers including big names like Nokia Networks are focusing on the possibilities of TD-LTE technology, to optimize how the spectrum is utilized. However, it’s important to recognize that you don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other – in fact, many new devices are now able to use both TD and FDD-LTE networks.
Large Scale Deployment
Although TD-LTE was originally designed for the Chinese market, it’s grown rapidly to become a commercial option in a number of global markets from Brazil to the USA. China Mobile’s showcased a wide range of chips and devices for the new network, including smartphones from Samsung, Quanta, and others. As of 2013, there were already 200 TD-LTE user devices, and this year the majority of new smartphones come with LTE/TD-LTE dual modes, while still being compatible with 2G and 3G networks worldwide. Small cells are being used to help create new networks in Europe, Asia, and other regions to make this technology mainstream over the next couple of years.
Benefits of TD-LTE
So why is TD-LTE getting so much attention? Until recently, it was seen as a term with more hype than promise. But this type of network offers a higher degree of flexibility than FDD technology, which must use two separate spectrum blocks to receive and deliver traffic. By contrast, TD-LTE only uses the one block, which allows frequencies to be used in numerous ways to provide a more flexible and efficient user experience. The spectrum could essentially be divided into a smaller pipeline for emails, and another one for more extensive downloads and streaming content. This puts less strain on the network, keeping data transfer speeds high. At the same time, this type of technology saves money for carriers, and the savings could potentially be passed on to consumers.
Yet FDD is still seen as the most traditional form of LTE, and it also carries some benefits. It provides consistency in terms of performance, and in some ways is easier to roll out. There are advocates for both FDD and TD, which is why devices are now expected to be compatible with both. The ability to shift from one to the other can lead to a more efficient LTE network overall.