(Adds China Unicom statement in paras 1-3)
BEIJING Aug 28 China Unicom and China
Telecom, the country's No.2 and No.3 mobile carriers,
have received government approval to test their 4G high-speed
networks in a total of 40 cities, up from 16 previously, they
said on Thursday.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which
allowed both mobile operators to test their new LTE hybrid
network beginning in June, approved 24 additional trial cities
including Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Dongguan and Xiamen.
China Unicom and Telecom's 4G networks are expected to
provide a significant boost to their businesses as subscribers
sign up for the faster and costlier service.
The carriers also hope to recoup some subscribers lost to
China Mobile, the country's largest carrier, which obtained its
4G licence in December and already boasts 20 million 4G
China Mobile received what amounted to a significant head
start in its 4G roll-out because regulators had previously
green-lighted its TD-LTE network technology.
Telecom, which had 180 million subscribers in August, and
Unicom, which reported 296 million subscribers, both use
networks that incorporate both LTE FDD and TD-LTE technology.
Earlier this week China Telecom posted its slowest quarter
of net income growth in six quarters and said it would not pay
an interim dividend as uncertainty around 4G licences and
regulatory policy ate into its bottom line.
Chairman and Chief Executive Wang Xiaochu, who has stated a
target of rolling out 4G to 50 cities by the end of the year,
said in the earnings release the company "faced unprecedented
uncertainty" due to factors including 4G regulatory policy and
value-added tax reform.
(Reporting by Gerry Shih; Additional reporting by Lee Chyen Yee
and Bangalore newsroom; Editing by David Holmes and Mark Potter)