China Mobile

Mainland 4G mobile network trial to expand this year, says MIIT

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2013, 4:58am

Telecommunications giant China Mobile could firm up its standing as the world's largest 4G network operator, as the central government pushes for an expanded trial this year of the high-speed wireless system.

Zhang Feng, director of the telecommunications development department at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the mainland will expand its two-year-old 4G network trial after making "very good" progress last year, a Bloomberg report said.

China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless network operator by number of subscribers, announced in August that it will have a total of 200,000 4G base stations in service this year - more than any other 4G operator in the world. That would be a big jump from its projected infrastructure roll-out of 20,000 base stations in 13 cities at the end of last year.

Lisa Soh, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities, said yesterday that China Mobile will remain "the major driver of 4G trials" even under an expanded deployment across the mainland.

China Mobile had a total of 710.298 million subscribers as of December 31. Of that number, 87.928 million are on its 3G network that uses the Beijing-backed standard called TD-SCDMA.

Advanced 4G networks have theoretical internet download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second. The fastest existing 3G networks run at 42Mbps. China Mobile's 4G network is based on another government-backed standard, TD-LTE. In Hong Kong, the carrier's local subsidiary has a licence to provide 4G services.

Soh pointed out that China Unicom and China Telecom could be tapped to conduct smaller-scale 4G network trials in other mainland locations.

"Depending on the success of these trials, this expansion could progress into a commercial roll-out by next year in line with the ministry's original plan," she said.

Zhang, however, did not give a timetable for the issuance of 4G licences to the three nationwide telecommunications network service providers.