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ZTE's latest LTE test shows how operators can increase bandwidth

A test conducted by ZTE shows how two versions of the 4G technology can become more tightly integrated

ZTE has successfully completed a hand-over test between two different versions of LTE, allowing operators to more effectively use their spectrum in a way that is seamless to the end user, the company said on Thursday.

The test was carried out using a network from ZTE and a dual-mode USB modem from the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI).

In this case, dual-mode equals support for both LTE FDD (Frequency-Division Duplex) and TDD (Time-Division Duplex). The latter sends download and upload traffic over one channel, while FDD uses two channels, one for downloading and one for uploading data.

By using LTE FDD and TDD at the same time operators can offer higher speeds to more users, according to Richard Webb, directing analyst for microwave, mobile offload, and mobile broadband devices at Infonetics Research.

"I certainly think that greater interoperability between the two technologies will give operators more flexibility when deploying LTE," said Webb.

An operator could also use the two versions for different services, according to Webb. For example, LTE TDD is a good fit for video streaming -- since operators can choose to dedicate more spectrum to downlink traffic -- and the LTE FDD network can handle Web traffic.

To date, operators have been given a fairly small amount of FDD spectrum, so some of them are also looking at using TDD spectrum to boost capacity, according to Webb. But what they don't want to end up with is two separate networks, and ZTE's test seems to show that operators can avoid that, he said.

The test showed that when the modem is connected to the network and large files are downloaded, the success rate of the hand-over can be up to 100 percent, according to ZTE. Also, the quality of the connection was not affected, the company said.

The goal with ZTE's test was to show how the user experience can be improved when an operator uses both versions of LTE.

Most of today's commercial LTE networks use FDD, but there are networks of the TDD variety in Poland, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Japan and India, according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association). Big proponents of LTE TDD include Clearwire and China Mobile.

Last year, the first network to use both LTE FDD and TDD was unveiled in Sweden by ZTE and Hi3G. How many other operators decide to follow remains to be seen.

ZTE didn't say when the functionality will become available in commercial networks, only saying that "as a next step, ZTE is looking to deploy this technology in its launched networks."

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