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China Mobile sets 4G auction

By Zhang Ye (Global Times)

08:35, June 26, 2013

China Mobile, the country's largest mobile carrier by user base, is set to launch a main equipment tender bidding for its TD-LTE networks on Tuesday, a move analysts said likely indicates that the government will soon issue licenses to run 4G mobile networks in China.

Those who are interested and qualified can get bidding applications from the company between Tuesday and Friday. On July 15, they are required to submit those documents and attend a public bid opening, according to an announcement posted by China Mobile Saturday on its website.

The bidding aims to build 207,000 base stations in 31 provinces around the country.

The 4G LTE (fourth-generation long-term evolution) platform is the new standard for mobile communication and faster than 2G and 3G networks.

TD-LTE (time-division LTE) is a homegrown 4G service co-developed by China Mobile together with other telecom equipment makers in China and abroad, including ZTE, Datang Telecom and Nokia Siemens Network.

US and European markets are based on the FDD-LTE (frequency division duplex LTE) platform.

China Mobile has made an early start in the 4G market, which will make it possible for the company to quickly "triumph over" other carriers once 4G licenses are issued, Fu Liang, a Beijing-based independent telecom analyst, told the Global Times Monday.

The company is pinning its hopes on 4G to win back domestic high-end consumers who prefer the China Unicom and China Telecom 3G networks, he said.

He also noted that China Mobile's Tuesday move likely means the government will soon issue 4G licenses.

Xiang Ligang, a telecom expert and CEO of industry information portal, predicted that the release date could be early in October.

China Mobile has shown strong determination to achieve its 4G ambitions. It has recently launched TD-LTE trial networks and built 20,000 base stations in 15 pilot cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The company is also preparing for a TD-LTE terminal tender bidding and plans to purchase more than 1 million terminals by the end of 2013, Zhang Xuan, the company's spokesperson, told the Global Times Monday.

If China Mobile meets its goals, the number of domestic base stations for 4G networks will be equal to the number for 3G networks, which will narrow the gap between China and other countries in terms of network development, Xiang told the Global Times Monday.

Verizon, a US telecom operator, has said that its 4G LTE services cover 90 percent of the US population. Meanwhile, China's 4G networks still remain in the trial phase.

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