Huawei’s new TD-LTE stick may give green signal to Wireless Broadband roll-out in India

Huawei, World’s second largest mobile network equipment provider, has just launched a data-card product that may turn out to be crucial to the roll-out of wireless broadband in India by players like Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

The data-card is the World’s first such device to support a host of technologies, including TD-LTE — seen as the most likely technology to be deployed by most of the Indian wireless broadband spectrum holders.

Despite getting spectrum a year ago, none of the Indian operators who won the wireless broadband auction have deployed their network, disappointing many who have been waiting for broadband, especially in rural areas. A clutch of companies, including Airtel, Tikona, Qualcomm, Reliance Industries and Aircel had won wireless broadband spectrum last year.

In comparison, 3G services, whose spectra were also given at the same time, have been launched across the country.

The biggest stumbling blocks have been the delay in readying the requisite technology and cash-crunch caused by the auctions and the subsequent 3G roll-out.

Many equipment vendors have warned Indian operators not to go with the ready-and-available 3-year-old Wimax technology, but to wait for TD-LTE technology, claiming better efficiency etc.. However, apart from promises, very few actual devices have made it to the market till now.

Huawei’s new usb data-stick may change all that. While it is not based on the LTE Advanced specification (according to the company’s description), it is perhaps the first device to support the TD (or single spectrum block) version of LTE.

Other operators, such as Verizon in the US and Telia Sonera in Sweden and Norway (home to Ericsson, one of the biggest possible beneficiaries of LTE adoption) have launched, they all use two-block spectrum technology. India, however, has given its wireless broadband spectrum in a single block to enable faster speeds and greater efficiency, forcing the Indian companies to use Wimax or wait for TD-version of LTE to be ready.

Huawei said its new usb stick works on both versions, in addition to 3G and even the normal CDMA and GSM networks.

While Verizon, which uses two blocks of 10 MHz of spectrum, promises only around 12 Mbps of data speed, Huawei said its device can go up to 100 Mbps.

It is widely expected that 100 Mbps speed on a mobile device will be a reality only after the next revision of Wimax and LTE technologies — Wimax ‘m’ and LTE Advanced.

Wimax ‘m’ networks and products are expected to be available early next year, according to an accelerated schedule of production by its main supporters such as Samsung. LTE Advanced is likely to take longer, especially on the TD mode as even the current LTE technology is yet to be commercialized on TD mode.

Huawei said the usb stick will be available in the third quarter of this year, giving perhaps the closest thing to a device ‘road map’ to wannabe deployers of TD-LTE in India.

The announcement is seen as part of the efforts to make sure that Indian operators don’t go with the competing Wimax ‘e’ (current) or Wimax ‘m’ (end of the year) technology.

“Huawei Device’s development of the E392 represents a breakthrough to the current single-mode status of the LTE TDD. This is significant in terms of boosting the interest of operators and promoting the development of the LTE TDD industry,” said Wu Shimin, President of Mobile Broadband division at Huawei Device unit.

TD-LTE is expected to be a great boon to Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE as they hold the edge in this technology, unlike in case of Wimax or 3G.