China Mobile is forging ahead with the rollout of the country's homegrown 4G mobile technology TD-LTE, with the company's top executive predicting this week that by the end of 2013 its network will cover 100 cities and more than 1 million people will have TD-LTE devices.
″TD-LTE devices will be launched around Q3 this year,″ China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua revealed at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
For most mobile operators selling 1 million-plus devices running on a new technology in one-to-two quarters would be a relatively ambitious target, but it is a drop in the ocean for China Mobile, which had 710 million customers at the end of 2012.
China Mobile has seen customer growth in 3G falter in recent months, with rivals China Unicom and China Telecom adding more subscribers, proportionately at least, in no small part thanks to their ability to offer the iPhone. China Mobile's 3G service is also based on a Chinese standard – TD-SCDMA – which has not found widespread support among the world's handset makers, despite the telco's ability to generate economies of scale through its own size alone.
The telco is working closely with the handset makers, Xi told his audience in Barcelona.
″China Mobile plans to sell 120 million units of TD-SCDMA mobile devices this year,″ he said, adding that the company also intends to launch TD-SCMDA phones under its own brand.
The TD-LTE ecosystem promises to be more widely supported on the international stage though.
″TD-LTE...gets much attention from operators from various countries,″ Xi said. He explained that China Mobile is pushing for network coordination on TD-LTE, noting that its own service will use 2.6-GHz spectrum.
The telco is also pushing hard on network rollout.
″By the end of this year China's TD-LTE network will cover more than 100 cities,″ Xi said. The company previously announced that it will use as many as 200,000 base stations to cover those cities.