China Mobile to complete network trials by June
China Mobile expects to complete commercial trials of its fourth-generation network by June, which may coincide with the possible release of a compatible iPhone from Apple.
That most fortuitous set of circumstances was raised by experts yesterday in Hong Kong at an international summit on Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE), which is the mainland-backed 4G standard.
China Mobile, the world's largest wireless network operator with 633.5 million subscribers as of September, has been leading efforts to get other carriers worldwide to adopt that high-speed 4G standard.
The release of an iPhone that supports TD-LTE networks was expected to hasten a long-anticipated deal that would make the mainland company Apple's biggest carrier-partner, China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou had said in May.
China Mobile executive vice-president Li Zhengmao said the first stage of its comprehensive TD-LTE network tests in six mainland cities, which started last December, was completed in September. More than 850 base stations had been set up.
The next stage of large commercial tests, which China Mobile aims to wrap up in June, will be led by 'Smart Shenzhen', which will launch today. This is a city-wide project that will use 4G TD-LTE networks to support various local initiatives, including intelligent traffic management, remote medical care, e-government and digital campus programmes.
Bill Huang, the general manager of the China Mobile Research Institute, said another big commercial trial that also covered a densely populated area would be set up next year on busy Changan Avenue in Beijing.
Goldman Sachs analyst Donald Lu forecast that the wide international adoption of 4G TD-LTE would result in networks covering a total population of 3.1 billion worldwide by 2013, all supported by compatible smartphones from major dealers.
'By the middle of next year, the iPhone will support LTE,' Lu said. 'Around 50 per cent of smartphones from Samsung and HTC will be LTE phones next year.'