China Mobile has launched a tender for suppliers to build its 4G TD-LTE network in China, including the provision of equipment for 207,000 base stations in 31 provinces.

The tender was posted online on 21 June and is the largest ever launched by the world’s biggest operator, according to a report in the China Daily newspaper.

The tender said China Mobile would not accept agent bidders or those that make critical equipment on an OEM basis. Telecomasia reported that interested parties are required to submit bidding documents and attend a public bid opening on 15 July.

According to the China Daily, China Mobile’s capital spending will increase 49 per cent year-on-year to CNY190.2 billion ($30.5 billion). More than half of the company’s network expenditure will go towards 4G in 2013.

Alcatel-Lucent China president Yuan Xin told the China Daily he was optimistic of a satisfactory result for the company when China Mobile announces the winning bidders for the contract in the third quarter. He said TD-LTE will be a core foundation of its future business.

Ericsson VP for Asia-Pacific Mats Olsson said the company is now interested in the development of TD-LTE in China after previously focusing on FDD-LTE.

Analysts have argued that domestic network equipment vendors will have an advantage over foreign companies, with Huawei and ZTE expected to secure more than half of the share of China Mobile’s network build.

China Mobile awarded ZTE a contract for the rollout of its TD-LTE network in Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Shenyang in October 2012. Alcatel-Lucent was awarded a contract for three more cities as part of the company’s plan to cover a total of 13 cities with the trial.