Time Division Duplex

What Does Time Division Duplex Mean?

Time division duplex (TDD) refers to duplex communication links where uplink is separated from downlink by the allocation of different time slots in the same frequency band. It is a transmission scheme that allows asymmetric flow for uplink and downlink data transmission. Users are allocated time slots for uplink and downlink transmission.


Time division multiplexing separates uplink and downlink signals by matching full duplex communication over a half-duplex communication link. This method is highly advantageous in case there is an asymmetry of uplink and downlink data rates. TDD divides a data stream into frames and assigns different time slots to forward and reverse transmissions, thereby allowing both types of transmissions to share the same transmission medium.

Techopedia Explains Time Division Duplex

When data over uplink increases, more communication capacity is allocated. This is taken away when the traffic load becomes lighter. It operates by toggling transmission directions over a time interval, which occurs rapidly and is barely visible to the user. TDD supports voice and symmetrical as well as asymmetric data services. It also handles a dynamic mix of both traffic types. The capacities of downlinks and uplinks are altered in favor of one direction over another by providing greater time allocation through time slots to downstream transmission intervals than to upstream ones.

Well known examples of TDD are:

  • Half-duplex packet mode networks based on carrier sense multiple access
  • IEEE 802.16 WiMAX
  • Digital enhanced cordless telecommunications (DECT) wireless telephony
  • Universal Mobile Telecommunications System 3G supplementary air interfaces
  • TD-CDMA for indoor mobile telecommunications
  • TD-SCDMA 3G mobile telephony air interface

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.