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BEIJING, Nov 25 (Reuters) - China Mobile Ltd, the world's largest mobile carrier by number of users, will begin commercial services of its high-speed 4G network on December 18, the Shanghai Daily reported on Monday.
China Mobile, whose 759 million users make up 62 percent of China's total 1.2 billion mobile subscribers, will launch its 4G service first in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing, the newspaper cited a China Mobile official in Shanghai as saying.
The government is expected to issue licenses for 4G before China Mobile's services start, the report said.
These licenses would mainly benefit China Mobile, as they are expected to be for its Chinese-made 4G standard rather than the international standard rivals China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd are chiefly using to build their networks.
China Mobile Ltd is investing billions of dollars to upgrade its infrastructure so clients can enjoy speedier Internet and data access once the government awards 4G telecom licences before the end of the year.
China Mobile has been slower than its two rivals China Unicom and China Telecom to build up more profitable 3G subscriptions. By investing heavily in 4G, China Mobile has forced China Unicom and China Telecom to keep pace despite the companies still having room to grow their 3G user bases.
But the heavy spending could take years to pay off as Chinese consumers are unlikely to pay large amounts extra for 4G and faster Internet allows data-based services like social messaging apps to eat into revenues from SMS and voice calls.
China Mobile's 3G network, slower than the international 3G standards used by its rivals, was also developed in China, and has been partly blamed for the network's low 3G subscriber numbers.
China Mobile was not immediately available to comment.
Reporting by Paul Carsten; Editing by Jane Merriman