China Mobile aims to complete next phase 4G trial by June

HONG KONG Tue Nov 15, 2011 3:32am EST

HONG KONG Nov 15 (Reuters) - China Mobile expects to finish the second-phase of its fourth-generation (4G) network trials by June, a senior company executive said on Tuesday, as the world's largest mobile carrier tries to boost its data services to attract high-end users.

China Mobile has built more than 850 base stations in six major cities in China and has made "remarkable progress" in its tests of the new-generation network technology based on TD-LTE platform, Li Zhengmao, an executive vice president, said at an event in Hong Kong.

"With the growing popularity of mobile Internet and smart devices, data consumption is increasing at an explosive speed, which has brought huge pressure to global mobile networks."

"Under such a situation, the need to speed up the commercialisation of LTE is more compelling."

China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile carrier with 633.5 million subscribers -- more than the entire population of North America -- has been losing out to smaller rivals China Unicom and China Telecom in attracting higher-end 3G users.

China Unicom is the only official iPhone seller among the three Chinese carriers. China Mobile has 10 million iPhone users even though it does not have an agreement with Apple, but iPhone subscribers using the carrier do not have access to 3G download speeds.

Apple has been reluctant to strike a deal with China Mobile due to its inferior homegrown 3G technology called TD-SCDMA.

Apple has promised to make an iPhone compatible with China Mobile's TD-LTE standard when its next-generation model comes out, the Chinese firm's Chairman Wang Jianzhou told Reuters last month.

Li said seven telecom equipment makers and three chip makers participated in the first phase of the 4G trial. The Beijing-based carrier has begun purchasing TD-LTE devices, he said.

China Mobile and U.S. 4G operator Clearwire Corp have teamed up to develop high-speed mobile devices and infrastructure. Under their agreement China Mobile will work on chipsets and devices for TD-LTE that both companies are planning on using.

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