China Unicom aims to boost its speed to market for LTE services following the deployment of a software-defined radio access network at its Sichuan business.

The telco worked with Huawei to roll out an SDN-based IP radio access network in Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province, Huawei announced on Thursday.

China Unicom made the move with LTE in mind, Huawei said, noting that carriers face a raft of new challenges around network operations and service creation when it comes to LTE.

By deploying SDN, China Unicom can roll out new LTE services more quickly and better respond to market demand, the equipment maker said.

"We expect these innovations to improve network operation efficiency, promote rapid innovative service delivery and go-to-market, further improve user experience in UMTS/LTE services, and create more value for our customers," said Qiao Guiping, general manager of Sichuan Unicom, China Unicom's local unit, in a statement.

Meanwhile, Huawei's fixed network product line president Zha Jun described the deployment as "an important milestone in the industry".

He added that Huawei is ready to work with its customers on SDN and to promote the commercialisation of the technology.