T-Mobile Plans UMTS TDD Network

While the majority of the press buzz swirls around the non-existent mobile version of WiMAX, T-Mobile has launched mobile broadband using cellular UMTS TDD technology from US vendor, IPWireless. The T-Mobile launch is in the Czech republic, and comes after extensive testing of the technology solution. In terms of competing against other BWA technologies, UMTS TDD has certain advantages: 1) it is based on a 1999 standard, and available as a standards-based solution today, 2) it has excellent spectral efficiency, and per-sector throughput, 3) it is proven in many commercial networks worldwide, 4) and last but certainly not least: European carriers that bought UMTS spectrum also got the rights to spectrum that is regulated for TDD use – as in “use it with this BWA technology or don’t use it at all”. In the case of T-Mobile Czech, the mobile operator has decided to go head-to-head competing with the incumbent carrier in the broadband access market, but they will compete with the sustainable competitive advantage of mobility. Modems for the service are PCMCIA laptop cards or wallet-sized USB modems. Bear in mind that all the EU T-Mobile affiliates that own 3G spectrum also own TDD spectrum, so if the commercial service goes well in the Czech Republic, we might expect other T-Mobs to join in. Equipment vendor IPWireless has had good success with greenfield BWA operators around the world over the last two years, but they are experiencing increased traction among Tier 1 carriers, such as their trials with Nextel in the US (for the Sprint/Nextel MMDS 2.5GHz spectrum), Orange in France, Sonaecom in Portugal, and PCCW UK Broadband. Update by Mike: Carlo points out how ridiculous the Mobile Pipeline headline is on this story: T-Mobile Launches Non-WiMAX Wireless Broadband In Prague, as if the fact that this is not WiMax is the story. Yes, the non-existing technology is a bigger headline than the fact that T-Mobile is using a much more proven technology.

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