China Unicom trial network targets 4G licence
China Unicom to build pilot high-speed mobile network using technology favoured by Beijing in hope of winning government clearances
China Unicom (Hong Kong) will soon start construction of a trial network using time-division long-term evolution (TD-LTE) technology, the high-speed 4G mobile standard backed by Beijing.
By building the trial network using the favoured technology, Unicom is hoping to prepare the ground for success in gaining a 4G licence. When the mainland issued 3G licences, the first went to the government-backed standard called TD-SCDMA.
"Based on the information we've received so far, our analysis is that the government might issue the fourth-generation [4G] licences in a similar way as they delivered the 3G licences," said chairman Chang Xiaobing.
"We are looking at a number of capital cities and popular places for the TD-LTE trial network. But it's too early to be specific or to tell how much the investment will be."
TD-LTE is the high-speed standard adopted by market leader China Mobile.
Heyman Chiu, a senior research analyst at Cinda International, said China Unicom had wanted to develop the 4G standard called frequency division duplex long-term evolution (FDD-LTE), which has a smooth connection with its 3G network based on the standard WCDMA.
The mainland's second-largest wireless network operator had earlier earmarked about 80 billion yuan (HK$100.59 billion) in total capital expenditure this year. It spent only 21.6 billion yuan in the first half, compared with 38.9 billion yuan in the same period a year earlier.
"In the second half we will invest in the trial 4G networks of FDD-LTE and TD-LTE, but the total investment will be capped under budget," Cheng said.
Chiu said China Unicom may have to adjust its planned 2014 4G expenditure, for which it had announced spending of five billion yuan to 10 billion yuan.
"The company does not expect to have to build a TD-LTE system at that time," Chiu said. He said the network, as a experimental one, should not cost a large sum of money.
Trading in China Unicom was suspended yesterday afternoon because its interim results were unexpectedly posted on the website of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission before the Hong Kong market close.
Shares of the firm rose as much as 3.9 per cent and finished up 2.67 per cent before the suspension. The Hang Seng Index gained 0.3 per cent yesterday.
The company apologised to investors and said such a mistake would not happen again.
The carrier posted a 55 per cent rise in year on year net profit to 5.3 billion yuan for the first half, bolstered by solid growth in the number of new 3G subscribers. Revenue jumped 18.6 per cent to 144.3 billion yuan.