Posts Tagged ‘TD-SCDMA’

D-day’s here for TD-SCDMA! Take a bow!!

January 9, 2009 Comments off

It is indeed a major triumph for TD-SCDMA! After years of waiting, this 3G technology has finally been awarded a 3G license — in the form of a license from the MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology), China, to China Mobile — China’s biggest mobile phone operator.

I recall late 1999, when a good friend, Shih ying Tan, of Siemens, first apprised me about this particular technology, and I was able to discuss it in-depth with first, Siemens, while at Global Sources, in 2000, and later, with Dr. Li Shi-he, while at Wireless Week, the next year. Dr. Li is apprised as the father of TD in China! Sorry, I could not locate that link on Wireless Week.

I also spoke with Marco Principato at Siemens, while at Wireless Week, in 2001 The link will take you to that interview. So, it’s been a personal delight for me that this technology has finally arrived!

I also traveled to Munich, Germany in August 2001, to meet Klaus Maler, who was then general manager, TD-SCDMA, for Siemens Information and Mobile Communications. I’ve also mentioned earlier that it was way, way back in September-October 2002, when the Chinese government allocated 155MHz of spectrum to TD-SCDMA!

What you should appreciate and be amazed about is the tremendous foresight of the Chinese government! Way back, it had decided to go ahead with TD-SCDMA! Way back, it allocated spectrum for this 3G technology! And well, most China followers, including yours truly, were aware that China Mobile would probably get the 3G license!

Knowing China reasonably well, China Mobile will surely leave no stones unturned in making TD-SCDMA its top priority, and developing it extremely well. Also, I am sure, China would be looking to sell this technology to other countries.

If you compare this with India, the differences are stark! TD-SCDMA is hardly talked about, and most dismiss it as a ‘China’ technology! Two, we have wonderfully entangled ourselves in the famous ‘spectrum tangle’ for years. So, allocating separate frequency for any technology is absolutely unheard of! Three, developing our own technology — far from it!

Anyhow, I am sure the Indian regulators will think their way through, as they’ve always done, and proper 3G would be a reality soon.

Coming back to China, the MIIT needs to be lauded for its great work and backing for TD-SCDMA! The technology itself has been close to being written off on so many instances, only to come back strongly! And how!!

I am certain that in the forthcoming telecom shows, such as those organized by the ITU, as well as CommunicAsia, we will get to see more of TD-SCDMA. More press coverage will be surely happening.

The D-day has arrived. Take a bow, TD-SCDMA!

Xilinx on microprocessor trends, solar/PV

August 13, 2008 Comments off

This semicon blog will basically examine the key trends in microprocessors, as well as whether companies such as Xilinx — a key player in FPGAs — has any kind of role to play in the solar/PV domain.

For the record, this is the concluding part of the discussion with Vincent Ratford, Senior Vice President, Solutions Development Group, Xilinx.

First, on to solar/PV! We have been reading and hearing a lot about the rapid advances being made in solar/PV. With so much investments in solar/PV happening globally, is there a role for Xilinx to play in this segment?

Ratford said: “Perhaps! Our devices are great for prototyping new ideas and often find their way into new markets. In base stations, our devices are used to reduce the power up to 50 percent. In signal processing applications, we have a decided performance/power advantage vs. discrete signal processors. Many of these ‘Green’ applications require some form of signal and embedded processing.” Interesting, and this point needs some further examination!

Another area of main concern within the global semiconductor industry is low-power design. According to Ratford, there are a variety of ways to save system power.

He added: “We are designing features in our new products that will reduce active and standby power. We also have power-estimation and optimization tools. I would say, there is a lot more to be done in this area at all levels, software, IP and silicon.”

Ratford was however, tight-lipped about Xilinx’s product roadmap beyond the Virtex V. Obviously, we need to remain very tuned toward this!

Key microprocessor trends
Now this is another interesting area. A few weeks ago, I had received a great article from Texas Instruments, which mentioned about five key microprocessor trends today.

Microprocessors have always been among the key areas of interest for semiconductor design and development. On being quizzed on what could be the five major trends for microprocessors, Xilinx’s Ratford said: “For our embedded customers it is:

* Rising adoption of Linux.
* Increasing use of multi-core and some multi-processing.
* Accelerating trend to increase the connectivity, bandwidth and reduce the latency between the processor and the FPGA.
* Improve the OOBE (Out of the Box Experience) for non-FPGA developers.
* Reduce power.

Before signing off, my thoughts also veered toward LTE and TD-SCDMA, one 4G and the other, a 3G technology. Both these technologies have been very much in the news lately, especially, TD-SCDMA, which is currently in use at the Beijing Olympics.

As expected, Xilinx has also forayed into both LTE and TD-SCDMA spaces!

Ratford said: “Yes, we have complete reference designs for LTE and TD-SCDMA and have secured most of the prototype sockets for these air interface standards with Virtex-5. We have a very strong IP portfolio for the radio shelf and baseband and our Sytem Generator and AccelDSP tools are used extensively.”

India announces 3G spectrum, MNP guidelines

August 1, 2008 Comments off

Finally, the wait’s over! The Indian government today announced the guidelines for 3G (third-generation mobile communications) spectrum as well as mobile number portability (MNP).

First, all players — Indian and global — have been invited to bid for 3G spectrum, making it a truly level-playing field. The condition for a foreign player or telecom operator is that it should have some experience in running 3G telecom services.

Those interested to know more about the guidelines for auction and allottment of spectrum for 3G telecom services, can download the documents from DoT’s site.

Apparently, the 3G guidelines allow 10 players in the Indian 3G space, including both Indian and foreign players.

Spectrum in the 2.1GHz band would be available for the 3G telecom services through bidding/auction. Spectrum shall be auctioned in blocks of 2x5MHz in the 2.1GHz band. As per the DoT guidelines, the number of blocks to be auctioned may vary from five to 10, subject to the availability in different telecom service areas. Should there be non-availability, the number of blocks may be less than five in a telecom service area.

The MNP allows mobile phone users/subscribers to change their operators, while retaining their mobile phone numbers.

As per the DoT guidelines, a customer can approach a ‘recipient operator’ to port his or her number. The ‘donor operator’ cannot re-use that customer’s ported number till such time the ported number is in use. The donor operator can only have the ported number once it has been surrendered by the ported customer.

Well, both of these announcements are going to add to India’s brilliant telecom success story.

As for the foreign players coming into the country, quite a few are already present. It would be great to see the likes of NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, China Telecom, China Mobile, Telefonica, etc., enter the 3G space in India. As for 3G technology itself, TD-SCDMA, HSPA, etc., should be considered as well.

Oh yes, there’s some good news for those itching to use the Apple iPhone 3G. Once, the 3G networks are in place, there’s nothing that can stop this from happening.

On the MNP front, a good majority of Indian subscribers are on prepaid. So, there may be quite a few changeovers happening! It could well prove to be a nightmare for the operators, but then, that’s the fun of having a level-playing field and the challenge of playing in the booming Indian telecom market.

Postscrpt: A reader, Abhshek, left a very interesting and relevant comment regarding 3G services that users could be charged heftily. I quite agree with him! The 3G operators would need to price their services right. It should be win-win for both operators and users.

To start off, service charges could possibly be on the higher side, as the 3G licenses won’t come cheap, and operators would also look at the revenue angle. However, over time, service charges are quite likely to come down, if the pattern of the Indian telecom history is repeated. Many thanks for your comment, Abhishek.

Why 3G operators can’t ignore TD-SCDMA

July 12, 2008 Comments off

Come Beijing Olympics, and China will be showcasing the TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code-Division Multiple Access) technology. Largely unheralded, and spoken about by relatively few, TD-SCDMA may well surprise the telecom industry and pundits.

In fact, it is not even well known that the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) in China had allocated a total frequency of 155MHz for TD-SCDMA way back in Q3 of 2002. Back then, Lothar Pauly, then member of the Group Executive Management of Siemens Information and Communication Mobile had said that the allocation of frequencies for TD-SCDMA in China marked “a milestone in the standard’s development.” Siemens mobile has been developing 3G technology jointly with the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology (CATT/Datang) since 1998.

As per the TD-SCDMA Forum, China Mobile has announced its TD-SCDMA terminal timetable. Apparently, in China Mobile‘s second round of TD-SCDMA terminal bidding, ZTE has won orders for 61,000 handsets and Samsung for 20,000 handsets.

Also, the MIIT has established a 3G inter-ministerial co-ordination group. Li Yizhong, minister of the new Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China, says that the ministry has established a 3G inter-ministerial co-ordination group to promote the commercial test and ensure the success of TD-SCDMA.

He says that the ministry should actively promote the commercial test of TD-SCDMA, further reform the system, and carry out the major scientific and technological projects. Relative officials are required to supervise the construction of TD-SCDMA base stations in Beijing to ensure the call quality of TD-SCDMA and ensure the trial operation of TD-SCDMA mobile phone TVs during the upcoming Olympic Games.

The minister has also issued orders to give full support to the implementation of measures and policies beneficial for the development of TD-SCDMA. The ministry should organize Chinese telecommunication units to realize better network optimization, supply special Olympic services, co-ordinate the interoperability between 2G and 3G, solve the problems in the commercial tests, and to ensure the initial success of TD-SCDMA.

All of these developments reminds and takes me back to 2000, when TD-SCDMA was just starting to make the rounds. A good friend, Shih-ying Tan from Siemens Hong Kong, called me up to discuss this technology! Subsequently, it led to visit to Munich, to see the technology first hand!

Here are excerpts from a discussion I had, back in August 2001, with Klaus Maler, who was general manager, TD-SCDMA, for Siemens Information and Mobile Communications in Munich, Germany, at that point of time (in pic). I was serving Wireless Week, US, as its Asia-Pacific editor. Some or most of this may read a bit outdated, but it is still worth a read for those keen on TD-SCDMA.

TD-SCDMA, a 3G technology co-developed by Siemens AG and the China Academy of Telecommunications Technology, is said to be the only technology suitable for TDD (time division duplex) bands. In addition to being more spectrally efficient for both symmetrical and asymmetrical data services, it is capable of dealing with hot spot scenarios. Some TDMA operators reportedly are considering it as an option for migrating to 3G, and once deployed on the mainland of China, it is likely to reach the economies of scale that would make it attractive to mobile operators worldwide.

Acceptance by carriers
What are the chances that TD-SCDMA will be accepted by carriers, given that it is a TDD technology while wideband-CDMA and CDMA2000 are FDD (frequency division duplex) technologies? Isn’t TDD in a minority here?

Maler had replied that TD-SCDMA, as well as W-CDMA, uses GSM MAP [manufacturing automation protocol]. This means that it is very likely to have affordable GSM/W-CDMA or GSM/TD-SCDMA dual-mode or GSM/TD-SCDMA/W-CDMA triple-mode handsets. On the other hand, an exotic GSM/CDMA2000 handset should support two different MAPs–GSM and IS-833. Dealing with such complicated and expensive handsets does not encourage GSM operators to adopt a CDMA standard.

As TD-SCDMA is TDD based, it offers optimum spectral efficiency for both symmetric and asymmetric data services. Certainly, carriers won’t ignore this aspect. On an international scale, TD-SCDMA is the only technology suitable for the TDD bands, assigned by regulators worldwide and already have been auctioned in Europe. So TD-SCDMA, being an accepted standard worldwide, approved by the ITU and standardized in the 3GPP (Third-Generation Partnership Project), is definitely not in a minority.

Were there any chances that TD-SCDMA won’t get locked in like another TDD standard, PHS, has in Japan? In response, Maler said TD-SCDMA is an accepted technology, while PHS is more of a local standard in Japan. Also, TDD frequencies have been allocated in most of the European countries. These are the two major reasons why TD-SCDMA has more potential.

Mainland China is already the largest mobile market now. TD-SCDMA will be deployed in China as a global standard, addressing all sizes of cells, [so] the necessary effects of scale will be available for operators worldwide.

“We had discussed with mainland Chinese manufacturers a few years ago the advantages of combining TDD technologies with smart antennas. We studied this issue and this evolved into continuous improvement and actual development. This happened at a time when we were looking at the mainland Chinese market as a major focus. Last year, when we realized that TD-SCDMA had good potential, we started to introduce it into the 3GPP. Now it has been accepted as a global standard,” he said.

According to him, TD-SCDMA has a very bright future, [although] operators may go for a combination of technologies. TD-SCDMA allows operators to add spectrum for voice services using their core GSM networks. The version we are talking about for the launch in mainland China is based on a GSM core network. This will later evolve into a UMTS core network. We started developing the technology three years late, [so you could] say that TD-SCDMA is three years more modern than the other technologies. Now, we are all having trials simultaneously.

Is there a compelling case for TDMA operators to go the TD-SCDMA route? At the moment [this is 2001 end, remember], most TDMA operators in United States, for example, Cingular Wireless, AT&T Wireless and VoiceStream Wireless, are embracing GSM, thereby, acknowledging it as a worldwide standard. They are also committed to adopting the following migration path–TDMA-GSM-GPRS-EDGE-UMTS– following the footsteps of European operators.

Both of the UMTS alternatives –- W-CDMA and TD-SCDMA -– are being taken into consideration by TDMA operators, either as a complementary or an alternative solution. In particular, American TDMA operators believe that TD-SCDMA, thanks to its higher data transmission rate and its capability to deal with asymmetrical traffic and hot spot scenarios, is an interesting technology. The 1.6MHz bandwidth [it uses] will certainly ease the spectrum allocation in the already crowded spectrum currently available in the United States.

Most of the TDMA operators are moving to the GSM-GPRS-EDGE-W-CDMA route. It’s not easy to get FDD spectrum in the United States and it will become even more difficult in the future. This is a very good opportunity for a TDD technology like TD-SCDMA.

TD-SCDMA in Europe
Were there any plans to implement TD-SCDMA in Europe, and especially Germany, given that Siemens has been playing an active role in developing this technology?

In Europe, TD-SCDMA will be deployed with capacity-enlargement purposes in W-CDMA networks in hot spot scenarios. By that time, TD-SCDMA will already be a mature technology and will have derived benefits from the mainland Chinese experience.

Most of the operators are now focusing on W-CDMA. They can consider TD-SCDMA to enhance services later on. We are speaking with several operators in Europe. They have been surprised and have actively responded [because] they can see that the chances for TD-SCDMA to succeed have improved considerably. Operators that had not chosen Siemens for some reason now have decided to take another look at us.

And why aren’t GSM operators elsewhere showing interest in this technology? Instead, they have been opting for W-CDMA? In the very beginning in Europe, around 1998, TDD was conceived as a technology only for micro and picocell coverage. Consequently, it was considered interesting only in a second phase of the UMTS deployment as a capacity enlargement. Spectrum was assigned and licenses were bought bearing this in mind.

As TD-SCDMA is also able to cover large cells, the momentum behind it is increasing considerably and we are getting quite a lot of interest from European operators of merging TDD activities into this technology.

TD-SCDMA is quite a good alternative. Also, if an operator already has W-CDMA and adds TD-SCDMA, or it’s the other way around, it’s quite a good combination. Very soon, carriers will notice capacity shortages, especially for the more powerful applications. Facing the fact that they are wasting bandwidth, in terms of asymmetrical traffic, TDD is the technology of choice. The combination of both technologies — W-CDMA and TD-SCDMA — may apply in most countries, even here in Europe.

By the way, there used to be LinkAir’s LAS-CDMA (Large Area Synchronized Code-Division Multiple Access). LAS-CDMA was also said to offer a higher spectral efficiency and moving speed, thus providing better support for mobile applications. Its asymmetric traffic, higher throughput, and smaller delay provide also improved IP support. A LAS-CDMA TDD variant is compatible with systems such as TD-SCDMA.

I had written about LAS-CDMA back in 2000, but have been unable to find the link. Even there’s no update on this technology. Would be great if folks could update me on LAS-CDMA.

Lastly, I need to thank Chi-Foon Chan, president and COO of Synopsys, who I recently met on the sidelines of the Synopsys SNUG event. Chan discussed TD-SCDMA and LAS-CDMA briefly, while touching upon the semicon/EDA industry. But, more of that later!

Can we expect exciting times in 2008?

January 1, 2008 Comments off

Welcome 2008! May I wish all my readers a very happy and prosperous 2008. Another year’s gone past. We have a habit of looking back to see at what happened and what could have been.

A lot has been written already about 2007 and what to expect in 2008. So let’s just touch upon some of the events from 2007 and some expectations from 2008.

For India, 2007 was a great year for the semiconductor industry — first, the Indian government announced the semiconductor policy, followed some months later by the fab policy. Both were tremendous firsts in India’s science and technology, and not IT, history. Everyone hopes that the Indian semiconductor industry will take off this year. Eyes are focused on the embedded segment, what with the global semiconductor industry reportedly facing ‘an embedded dilemma.’

An issue hitting the EDA industry is that, the cost of designing or developing the embededded software for an SoC actually passed the cost of desgining the SoC itself in 2007. The world needs to avoid this software crisis, and India is well placed to take full advantage and play a major role, given its strength in embedded.

In IT, it’s been a mixed sort of a year for Apple, which hit big time with the iPhone, seemed not to make waves with either the Safari browser or the Leopard OS. Microsoft had the Vista OS, but then, Vista didn’t exactly warm the hearts of users or those who wished to upgrade their OS, including yours truly. Maybe, 2008 would ring in better times for Vista.

While on browsers, Firefox has gained lot of ground. However, by the end of 2007 came the news that the Netscape Web browser — which started it all — would soon be confined to history.

Netscape Navigator was the world’s first commercial Web browser and launch pad of the Internet boom. It will be taken off on February 1, 2008, after a 13-year run. Time Warner’s AOL, its current owner, has reportedly decided to kill further development and technical support to focus on growing the company as an advertising business. The first version of Netscape had come out in late 1994.

In gaming, there are admirers of Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360, and will remain the same. Which one of these gaming consoles will reign supreme, eventually, is difficult to predict.

In consumer electronics, lines are surely blurring between portable media players (PMPs) and portable navigation devices. Also, it would be interesting to see how digital photo frames survive 2008. A reported tight supply, especially for seven-inch models, has led to some makers in Asia either postponing mass production or extending lead times. Surely, makers cannot add more entertainment functions in smaller screen models, to keep costs down.

In the security products market, IP cameras and video servers should have a better year, with more emphasis now on video surveillance. In fact, some friends have been querying me as well regarding their potential.

On components, we can hope to see more growth for solid polymer capacitors in 2008, and among PCBs some fabricators should start manufacturing high-density interconnect (HDI) PCBs this year.

In wireless, we should witness TD-SCDMA in operation prior to the Beijing Olympic Games. Backers would like to see TD-SCDMA succeed, given the effort Datang-Siemens has made on the technology, as also the Chinese government, which issued spectrum for TD-SCDMA nearly five years ago!

Let’s all welcome 2008 and look forward to more exciting things happening.

Speculating on Indian 3G spectrum specter

October 25, 2007 Comments off

The ongoing saga regarding spectrum for 3G services, use of dual technologies, etc., reminds me of 2002, the MII, TD-SCDMA and 155MHz! Read on…

Anything on the spectrum spectacle in India makes very interesting reading! It’s as though two sides fighting over a valuable possession. Worth a click!!

We have been following how the two GSM and CDMA lobbies -– COAI and AUSPI -– have been in the news over the use of mixed bands. GSM operators have constantly warned that any move to allocate spectrum in the 1900MHz band to CDMA players would adversely impact their services in the 2100MHz band. We’ve been following what the TRAI, the DoT and others have to say on all of this.

Then AUSPI informed this week that field trials conducted in Hyderabad last week had proved successful. The trial conducted by AUSPI on behalf of the Department of Telecom (DoT) claims that the co-existence of 1900 MHz and 2100 MHz is possible.

Now, we are told that defence would be vacating spectrum by end of this year and India would have 3G services by next year. Hope all disputes are settled amicably and India finally gets to see what 3G services would have to offer.

I am reminded of two things – one, the 3G license auctions in Europe, which nearly brought the wireless house down in the early 2000s, and two, an interesting development in China. I’ll dwell on the second one.

Nearly seven years ago, I happened to break the news on TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code-Division Multiple Access), a 3G technology being developed at that point of time by Datang Telecom and Siemens. That story link no longer exists, so I’m providing a link to another story, mentioned below.

About two and a half years later, around October 2002, the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) in China allocated a total frequency of 155MHz for TD-SCDMA! This, for an untested, untried 3G technology, in a country much larger than India, was and is still unheard of!

Makes me wonder, why did the MII give away so much of spectrum so long back to an untested 3G technology, when in India, we keep hearing reports about spectrum issues, use of dual technologies, etc. Are there lessons to be learnt from the Chinese example?

On TD-SCDMA, much later, in 2002, I also discovered not many had even heard of it in India. However, around the time I reported this 155MHz spectrum story, STING’s Robin Grewal contacted me in Delhi to find out more about this 3G technology! That was the level of interest in 3G and TD-SCDMA, and spectrum in India, at least, at that time. Things have changed since! Hopefully!!

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