ZTE gives LTE a lift with multi-mode data card
Biz travellers to China will be happy
Chinese telecoms kit peddler ZTE has unveiled what it claims are the world’s first USB modem and portable hotspot devices to support both versions of LTE, FDD and TDD, in a move which could be welcomed by international business travellers keen on sniffing out the fastest local networks.
LTE is by no means standard around the globe yet, but the number of commercial networks is steadily growing.
The US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, India, Germany, the Nordics, Japan and Russia are among the countries which have them up and running, while China, UK, France, Spain, Italy, New Zealand and Malaysia are getting there.
TDD, or TD-LTE, is the China-backed version which the country has poured significant sums into developing and is looking to promote throughout Asia, while FDD is likely to be most popular in the US, Europe and Australia.
The snappily titled MF82052 USB modem supports FDD (frequency division duplexing) and TDD (time division duplexing) versions of LTE as well as China’s home-grown 3G standard TD-SCDMA and EDGE.
Forward-looking biz travellers could be tempted by the lightning fast down and upload speeds quoted for FDD (100Mbps/50Mbps) and TDD (68Mbps/17Mbps).
Also announced was the MF91S uFi (‘unique Wi-Fi) device which is basically a 105g mobile hotspot designed to provide connectivity for multiple device users, supporting the same network standards as the USB modem. It provides the same upload and download speeds, according to ZTE.
Forrester analyst, Katyayan Gupta, told The Reg the new offerings would be useful for business travellers to and from China and could help to commercialise the TDD variant.
"However, these devices lack a 'global' appeal as support for WCDMA is absent," he added.
"Rather than supporting EDGE, it would have made a lot more sense to support WCDMA. Nonetheless, introduction of these products definitely show that Chinese equipment vendors are really serious about making TDD LTE mainstream and take it to market on a dual/multi-mode strategy."
ZTE is trying, like most other telecoms kit and device manufacturers on the planet, to win customer hearts and minds with its 4G offerings. It claims to hold seven per cent of the world’s LTE patents and has already released the “first Chinese LTE tablet”, the V96A, and the Grand X LTE smartphone.
The Shenzhen-based telecoms giant would certainly like to be known more for its pioneering work in LTE than some of the other news connected with the firm in recent weeks.
It recently revealed profits for the first half of 2012 could fall by as much as 80 per cent, although claimed rumours that it was about to axe up to 12,000 staff worldwide this year were not true.
ZTE has also been hit by claims that it knowingly sold US-made tech to Iran and then deliberately covered its tracks when the media found out – claims the FBI is now formally investigating. ®
Yup, LTE is great...
LTE is really pretty great. There's paper speeds and there's real speeds -- Verizon Wireless' LTE on paper will do 80mbps. A few people have reported over 60mbps. Personally, I haven't seen that but I can get 12mpbs any old time of day, and have seen 20-30mbps a few times. And the city I live in is big enough to have a university campus and loads of dorms and apartments, but small enough so there are very busy cell sites every mile or two, not cell sites every block like some cities have. The 4G is maybe 20% completed (by area), but luckily the rest is 100% 3G (3.1mbps EVDO Rev A), with real speeds of about 1mbps typically (2mbps+ in those cities that DO have a cell site every block.) They claim to have the 4G completed by 2013 -- it seems like a lot to finish, but a lot is those areas out west where one site may have a 50 mile range, so those last 80% might be like 10% of the cell sites.
One thing to watch for -- don't let 'em say "Well, LTE is expensive so we'll jack up your data prices!" I'm grandfathered on unlimited data for $30. Well, for a while they reduced it so the same $30 would get just 2GB, and NOW they have this family plan where an extra $30 per line gets you **0** data, that extra $30 a line is JUST for the privilege of sharing that bucket of data that you then have to pay through the nose for! I realize unlimited data is unrealistic (since some few are going to be a smartass and pull like 1TB a month) but why not just either 1) Provide unlimited but throttle heavy users. 2) Use the T-Mobile technique, when your data is used up the throttle kicks in. Those who want to pay for more data do, and the rest don't get a rude surprise when the phone bill shows up.
What about the LTE frequencies supported in either mode? Just as important to know.