China Mobile – the world’s largest operator – is set to launch commercial 4G services on 18 December under a new brand called ‘He’, according to an unconfirmed report in the Shanghai Daily.
The report claims users in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing will be the first to enjoy LTE services based on the TD (unpaired spectrum) flavour of the technology, while Shanghai will launch services “later.”
The report is just the latest piece of speculation surrounding the country’s long-awaited launch of 4G services, but the timelines fit with general industry thinking. The country’s government is widely expected to issue TD-LTE licenses by the end of this year, followed by a separate process for FDD-LTE (sometime in 2014).
The vast majority of operators worldwide have launched LTE services based on FDD technology.
China Mobile’s launch of commercial 4G services will be a major boost to both domestic and international network vendors, as well as Apple. A live, commercial TD-LTE network will mean the Cupertino giant is finally able to make the iPhone officially available via the world’s largest mobile operator.