China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) today approved requests from China Telecom and China Unicom to expand their hybrid LTE network trials to an additional 15 cities, giving them licences to operate FDD-LTE services in 56 markets.
Currently China Telecom and China Unicom have approval to operate hybrid TDD-FDD LTE network trials in 41 cities. In October they reportedly applied for a third batch of permits that would extend coverage to a total of 237.
In early November the MIIT reportedly was preparing to issue full nationwide FDD-LTE network licences as early as this month, but there has so far been no follow-up.
The addition of 15 cites will help put China Telecom and China Unicom on more equal footing with 4G leader China Mobile, which announced last month it already had 50 million 4G connections. It has rolled out 570,000 4G base stations and will have 700,000 by the end of the year.
At the end of September, China Unicom had 2.7 million 4G connections and China Telecom had 1.3 million, according to GSMA Intelligence.
The new cities are Foshan, Fuyang, Guilin, Hengyang, Langfang, Linfen, Nanchong, Nantong Nanyang, Weifang, Weinan, Wenzhou, Quanzhou, Yichang and Wuxi.