China Mobile Wants To Push 4G TD-LTE Network, But Can’t Get Permits

C. Custer
8:30 pm on Jan 16, 2012


China Mobile wants their 4G TD-LTE network out soon to capitalize when the next iPhone is released.

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]

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    official iPhones sold in china are not carrier restricted.  that is, the baseband modem is not locked. jailbreak refers to altering the root software to allow installation of programs that are not authorized by apple or apps that have been cracked to allow users to install them without payment.  hard to know everything but there is a big difference.

    network popularity has almost always depended on choice of handset. Look back to first days of mobile data for reference – networks were faster than all but experimental devices. Operators had to wait for customers to upgrade their phones, customers waited for cool phones to buy.

    what your article misses is that the paradigm – fast mobile networks get best customers – was flawed in the past and even more flawed from an analysis perspective today. This is due to free Wifi, relative high cost/ inconsistency of mobile data and apps optimized for congested public data networks.  

    therefore, while I would rather use WCDMA with Unicom, I can get by with China Mobile’s EDGE because there are location aware options and many of my needs are met by apps.  

    the real story, in my opinion, is that China Mobile is somehow blocking number portability – allowing the number you have to be tied to you, not the carrier – to give its flagging orphan tdscdma networks time get enough handsets on the market.

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