China has issued 4G wireless communication licenses for homegrown TD-LTE technology to the nation’s big three telecom firms — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, according to a statement from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Wednesday.
China Mobile, the country’s largest mobile carrier, has been awarded a total of 130 MHz of paired spectrum for TD-LTE networks while China Telecom and China Unicom get 40 MHz each. The move takes the nation a step closer to the launch of 4G services.
Since the 4G network is technically 10 times faster than existing 3G technology, it is expected to help mobile carriers slash operating costs and improve the performance of cheaper handsets priced around 1,000 yuan (US$164), making them mainstream, market observers say.
The launch of 4G licenses in the time-division long-term evolution (TD-LTE) standard, instead of issuing them in the frequency division duplex-long term evolution (FDD-LTE) standard, has been widely expected by the market as Beijing aims to nurture the home-grown TD-LTE standard as an international standard.
China Mobile is expected to benefit from the MIIT’s latest move as the carrier can upgrade its 3G base stations, which use the time division-synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA) standard, into 4G base stations easily, according to industry experts.
China Unicom and China Telecom, which prefer the FDD-LTE standard, will have to rent China Mobile’s network over the next one to two years until the MIIT issues 4G licenses in the FDD-LTE standard. Market observers expect a total of 500 billion yuan of 4G investment to be kicked off after the issue of the licenses.
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