P1 to deploy LTE-TDD technology
It plans to start trial runs of the wireless broadband network technology at the end of this year and is now in the midst of identifying the areas in the country where it will conduct the tests.
P1 wants to roll out LTE-TDD commercially at the close of next year. "We have submitted a business plan to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission and are waiting its approval," Michael Lai, P1's chief executive officer, said during a media retreat here.
LTE-TDD is a fourth-generation technology that promises even faster wireless access speeds for mobile device users, as well as enhanced capacity for broadband network providers, than is available now.
At the event, China's ZTE Corp, which is P1's network partner, demonstrated LTE-TDD speeds of up to 110Mbps (megabits per second). The top speed is claimed to be 120Mbps.
A typical 90-minute high-definition movie (720p) would take 7 minutes to download at 110Mbps.
P1's current WiMAX technology network offers speeds of up to 45Mbps, and the same movie would take 18 minutes to download on that.
However, the speeds depend on how many users are on the network at the same time.
The more users there are in a particular sector around a base station, the slower the speeds will be.
A hurdle to LTE-TDD is the lack of devices configured to operate on that network now. And the small number of such devices currently available are too expensive for the average user.
"Without compatible and affordable devices, consumers will not be able to fully leverage on the power of the LTE-TDD network," Lai said.
But he is confident that the number of LTE-TDD-enabled products will increase by the time P1 kicks off its LTE-TDD network in this country.
Also, he said, global telecommunications giants China Mobile and InfoTel of India are the main drivers of LTE-TDD technology in Asia.
He said China Mobile is conducting large-scale LTE-TDD trials in six cities in China; these cities have a population greater than 100 million each.
InfoTel has conducted similar trials in India with Ericsson, the Swedish provider of telecommunications and data communications systems.
Lai said another reason for his confidence in LTE-TDD is that more than 17 telcos worldwide are offering services based on the technology now.
"And as at the first quarter of this year, there are about 320,000 subscribers to those services in total," he added.
The transition from a WiMAX-based to LTE-TDD network requires only a software update, which is one of its attractions to P1.