An ambition by China Telecom and China Unicom to be on equal 4G footing with market leader China Mobile is putting pressure on the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to speed up the issue of full nationwide FDD-LTE licences, with a source at an operator saying that “if everything goes well” the MIIT is expected to issue the licences around World Telecommunications Day on 17 May, C114.net reported.
The report comes as China Telecom and China Unicom reportedly are both pushing to scale up their 4G network deployments and expand their so-called hybrid TDD-FDD trials to more than 100 cities in the first half of the year.
China Unicom and China Telecom first received approval for the hybrid trials in 16 cities in June. The MIIT expanded the trials in August to 40 cities, then again to 56 cities in December. China Mobile recently said it now has 90 million 4G connections, while China Unicom and China Telecom together only have 10 million.
The MIIT has said previously that it wouldn’t consider issuing FDD-LTE licences until “conditions are mature in 2015” and wanted to see TD-LTE users expand to 250 million, C114.net said.
To speed up their rollouts, China Unicom and China Telecom will be able to use the 700,000 base stations that took China Mobile a year to build. China Tower – a joint venture established last July by the country’s three mobile operators – has started to take over the construction of towers from the operators in some regions. Starting this year, the operators will no longer build new towers. China Tower is expected to build more than one million towers over the next two years.
Meanwhile, China Unicom has released its “2H2014 service quality report”. The country’s second largest operator with 300 million connections sped up the roll out of its hybrid TDD-FDD network in the second half of last year, deploying 10,000 TD-LTE base stations and 90,000 FDD-LTE base stations.
China Unicom said its TD-LTE network covers more than 300 cities and has a peak download speed of 150Mb/s.