Motorola's Bruce Brda, SVP & GM of Motorola's Network Business provided an update on the company's latest TD-LTE progress, highlights of its first quarter operating results and key initiatives for 2010.
The update was given during a webinar to media and analysts earlier this week in conjunction with the start of the Shanghai World Expo. The event which runs through October features pavilions and exhibitions from more than 240 countries and is expected to draw more than 70 million visitors.
Motorola has partnered with China Mobile, the world's largest carrier and a major sponsor of the expo, and is showcasing its TD-LTE network solutions at the Information & Communication Pavilion. The demonstration features live video streaming, high speed internet browsing and remote monitoring.
The update comes a week after the company reported strong first quarter results that were better than many analysts had expected. In preparation for the planned separation of its Mobile Devices and Network Business in the first quarter of 2011, the company has begun reporting separate operating results for the two groups.
Motorola's Networks Business group delivered an impressive first quarter performance while some of its competitors including Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent reported disappointing earnings. Although sales were down 7 percent to $896 million, the group reported a 40 percent increase in operating earnings of $125 million, and an increase in operation margin from 9.2 percent to 14.0 percent of revenue.
While many carriers continue to invest and build-out 3G networks, Brda says there are significant advantages for carriers that move quickly to 4G.
"Any of the 4G technologies including WiMAX, TD-LTE or LTE are 5 to 10 times more spectrally efficient and one-fifth to one-tenth the costs to operate compared to 3G networks," says Brda. "Carriers that shift more quickly to 4G are going to have a significant cost advantage in the long run."
For the uninitiated, the "TD" in TD-LTE stands for "time division duplexing" and describes the method in which bits of data are transmitted over spectrum. With TD networks, data is transmitted over a single channel with the sending and receiving of that data controlled by time-based algorithms. In contrast, FDD or "frequency division duplexing" (the basis for most LTE networks), uses paired spectrum and separate channels for sending and receiving data.
Motorola continues to be a strong advocate of a multiple radio access network approach and believes that many different technologies including WiMAX, TD-LTE, FDD LTE and Wi-Fi will be needed to meet the insatiable demand for mobile broadband. "We don't believe there will just be one access technology," says Brda. "Carriers will need to deploy many different technologies to meet the enormous demand."
Given its early involvement with WiMAX and the similarities with LTE, the company is leveraging its R&D investment across both technologies. According to Brda, Motorola's hardware platforms are identical and the company is able to leverage 70% of the R&D between the two technologies.
The company also reiterated its support for WiMAX which was becoming an increasingly larger share of its business. Motorola currently has over 40 global WiMAX contracts, including some of the largest market deployments with U.S. based provider Clearwire, and has shipped over 2 million WiMAX dongles and CPE units.
"WiMAX as a 4G technology is a significant portion of our Q1 business and is on an increasing trend," says Brda. "Two years ago this number was zero."
The company highlighted several of its recent LTE wins and said that it plans to target and invest in LTE customers where it sees that it has an inherent advantage or customer relationship. In addition to the TD-LTE trial with China Mobile, Motorola has recently announced FDD based LTE networks wins with Zain Wireless in Saudi Arabia and KDDI in Japan. Interesting, KDDI is also deploying a WiMAX network in Japan through its joint venture investment in UQ Communications, although utilizing WiMAX base station equipment from NEC.