China Mobile steps up efforts to boost 4G standard
China Mobile aims to hasten the adoption of time-division long-term evolution (TD-LTE) technology - the high-speed 4G standard backed by the mainland - in the world's largest economy under a new pact with United States wireless broadband carrier Clearwire.
The Beijing-based network operator, the world's largest with 644.3 million subscribers as of November last year, yesterday announced an agreement with Clearwire to conduct tests for TD-LTE devices in the so-called global band configuration.
That collaboration, which followed their earlier accord in September, is expected to strengthen efforts by China Mobile to foster the international adoption of TD-LTE as a viable 4G system for the industry's 3G mobile network operators and device makers.
'Our goal is to build efficient, low-cost common infrastructure and terminal for different global markets with different spectrum to support mobile internet,' said Li Zhengmao, a vice-president of China Mobile. 'By closely working with global operators such as Clearwire, we could leverage the experience, expertise and scale to achieve this goal.'
Wider TD-LTE coverage would enable global roaming services for subscribers on networks that adopt this standard. With increased data use by consumers on smartphones and tablets, roaming services enable carriers to generate more revenue.
China Mobile last year helped form the Global TD-LTE Initiative, an advocacy group that encourages co-operation among network operators worldwide to promote the mainland-backed standard. The group's 38 member firms also promote the convergence of TD-LTE with frequency division duplexing long-term evolution (FDD-LTE) technology, the earlier established 4G network standard.
Beginning this month, China Mobile, Clearwire and other GTI member carriers will establish 4G mobile broadband laboratories featuring a joint test platform for TD-LTE devices. These labs will allow for the evaluation and qualification of commercial TD-LTE devices.
'The unmatched spectrum portfolio underlying Clearwire's planned LTE network has the potential to deliver faster speeds and with greater capacity than any current or proposed 4G network in the United States,' said John Saw, the chief technology officer at Clearwire.
Saw said close collaboration with China Mobile 'accelerates the development of multi-band TD-LTE and FDD-LTE devices'.
China Mobile has said it expects to complete commercial trials of its TD-LTE network by June, which may coincide with the possible release of a compatible iPhone from Apple.
Market research firm IHS iSuppli has forecast that there will be 744.2 million 4G LTE network users, out of 7.3 billion mobile handset subscribers worldwide, by 2015.