China’s biggest telecom provider, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL), has been facing a challenge from China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) as demand for 3G services in the country expands, mostly since China Unicom is the only official partner for the iPhone (although millions of iPhone owners jailbreak their phones and use them on China Mobile).
So it’s not hard to understand why the folks at China Mobile have been so gung-ho about 4G TD-LTE network technology. Last year, the company ran successful tests of TD-LTE in seven cities around China, and had planned more widespread testing and perhaps even a commercial launch for this year. But according to Taiwan’s Digitimes, its plans have been stymied by government supervisory authorities, who have thus far declined to grant the relevant permits.
This is especially bad news as China Mobile hopes they can be the first network to support the next iPhone model, which many have speculated will support a 4G network of some kind. China Mobile even spoke with Apple and supposedly received a “positive answer” when they asked about a 4G LTE handset.
Without permits, China Mobile’s 4G TD-LTE network is essentially in purgatory. Some have speculated that the government wants to allow 3G networks — which aren’t yet widely used in China — to grow in popularity before pushing another new mobile networking tech on consumers who might get confused.
Whatever the reasons, China Mobile’s 4G TD-LTE network is going nowhere without those permits, so if you were holding your breath waiting, we suggest you stop. You could be in for a bit of a wait.
[Digitimes via Sina Tech]