… it looks like the government was waiting till China Mobile was ready to launch, meanwhile delaying FDD-LTE by declaring a necessity to “test a converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network at a later date”.
4G TD-LTE Licenses Officially Issued by MIIT [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Dec 4, 2013]
After months of waiting and dithering, China is moving into the 4G era.
Today Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has finally issued the first batch of 4G licenses to China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile gets access to 130MHz of spectrum (1880-1900 MHz, 2320-2370 MHz, 2575-2635 MHz), China Unicom gets 40MHz (2300-2320 MHz, 2555-2575 MHz) and China Telecom has 40MHz (2370-2390 MHz, 2635-2655 MHz) for TD-LTE operation. The commercialization of TD-LTE in China by these three operators will certainly promote the TD-LTE scale deployment globally.
China issues 4G licenses [Xinhua, Dec 4, 2013]
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Wednesday issued 4G licenses to three Chinese telecom operators, marking the beginning of a new era in China’s high-speed mobile network.
China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom received permits to offer fourth-generation (4G) mobile network services employing homegrown TD-LTE technology.
The ministry said the three companies have conducted large-scale tests of TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long-Term Evolution, one of two international standards, and their technology is ready for commercial service.
Zhang Feng, the MIIT’s spokesman, said 4G technology will lower bandwidth costs and promise faster mobile broadband.
The ministry’s figures showed that the Internet speed of 4G networks is 10 times that of 3G services, and allows mobile users to download a 7-megabyte music file in less than one second.
China Mobile said the rates for 4G services will be cheaper than those for 3G. In some cities where the company has launched the 4G network for trial commercial use, the tariff is 20 percent less than similar 3G network plans.
Li Yue, president of China Mobile, said the price of 4G smartphones will go down quickly following the approval of the 4G network for commercial use.
Now only a number of smartphone models in China are equipped with modules that support home-grown 4G TD-LTE technology, with their prices ranging from 350 U.S. dollars to 800 U.S. dollars.
Li said 4G terminals for as little as 150 U.S. dollars will be available on the market by the end of this year.
The MIIT also said Wednesday it will test a converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD network at a later date.
China is the major promoter of the TD-LTE standard and is also a major owner of the standard’s core patents. LTE FDD is the other international 4G standard and is popular in Europe.
The MIIT said the convergence of the two standards is gaining momentum in the global telecom industry. A total of 10 converged TD-LTE/LTE FDD commercial networks have been established so far worldwide.
“China will issue licenses for LTE FDD when the condition is ripe,” said the ministry.
Experts believe the commercialization of TD-LTE will create a new impetus for China’s economic growth, as the country is home to the largest number of mobile phone users in the world.
The ministry’s statistics showed that the 3G network contributed 211 billion yuan (34 billion U.S. dollars) to China’s GDP in its first three years of commercial use.
“The 4G industry chain, which involves terminal manufacturing and the software sector, will further improve the services of China’s telecom sector,” said spokesman Zhang Feng.
60% of phone users in China have no plans to upgrade to 4G: report [Want China Times, Dec 6, 2013, 14:46 (GMT+8)]
More than 60% of China’s cell phone users have no plans to switch to the latest 4G technology, the Guangzhou-based Souther Daily reported on Dec. 5.
Though the paper did not give detailed information on how its poll was conducted, it said more than 60% of the people it surveyed said they are happy with their 3G smartphones and that they do not feel the need to upgrade.
Those polled said they have a greater choice of 3G smartphones at more competitive prices than the 4G options currently available.
Southern Daily said 4G services, for which the government began to issue licenses this week, would be attractive for the younger generation in particular but telecom carriers may need to offer more promotions and incentives to persuade people to retire their current cell phones.
What are the differences between TDD LTE (TD-LTE) and FDD LTE (FD-LTE)? [Global TD-LTE Initiative, Nov 4, 2013]
FDD LTE and TDD LTE are two different standards of LTE 4G technology. LTE is a high-speed wireless technology from the 3GPP standard. 3G growth reached its end at HSPA+, and mobile operators have already started deploying 4G networks to provide much more bandwidth for mobile users. 4G speed will provide a virtual LAN reality to mobile handsets by offering very high speed access to the Internet to experience real triple play services such as data, voice and video from a mobile network.
LTE is defined to support both the paired spectrum for Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and unpaired spectrum for Time Division Duplex (TDD). LTE FDD uses a paired spectrum that comes from a migration path of the 3G network, whereas TDD LTE uses an unpaired spectrum that evolved from TD-SCDMA.
TD-LTE does not require a paired spectrum since transmission and reception occurs in the same channel. In FD-LTE, it requires a paired spectrum with different frequencies with a guard band.
TD-LTE is cheaper than FD-LTE since in TD-LTE there is no need for a diplexer to isolate transmission and receptions.
In TD-LTE, it’s possible to change the uplink and downlink capacity ratio dynamically according to the needs. In FD-LTE, capacity is determined by frequency allocation by regulatory authorities, making it difficult to make a dynamic change.
In TD-LTE, a larger guard period is necessary to maintain the uplink and downlink separation that will affect the capacity. In FD-LTE, the same concept is referred to as a guard band for isolation of uplink and downlink, which will not affect capacity.
Cross slot interference exists in TD-LTE, which is not applicable to FD-LTE.
What are TD-LTE’s technical highlights? [Global TD-LTE Initiative, Nov 4, 2013]
TD-LTE transmissions travel in both directions on the same frequency band, a methodology formally known as “unpaired spectrum.” It is distinct from “paired spectrum,” where two frequencies are allocated, one for the transmit channel and the other for the receive channel (formally called “Frequency Division”). “Time Division” means the receive channel and the transmit channel take turns (i.e., divide the time between them) on the same frequency band. The time divisions are asymmetric, meaning that more time-slots are allocated to data going from the tower to the phone than from the phone to the tower. The usage patterns of the future (fewer phone calls, more Internet) are asymmetric in this manner.
The frequency bands used by TD-LTE are 3.4–3.6 GHz in Australia and the UK, 2.57−2.62 GHz in the US and China, 2.545-2.575 GHz in Japan, and 2.3–2.4 GHz in India and Australia. The technology supports scalable channel bandwidth, between 1.4 and 20 MHz. A typical range measures up to 200 meters indoors on a 2.57–2.62 GHz radio frequency link.
China Telecommunications: Who says TD-LTE doesn’t work? [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Nov 25, 2013]
Our existing ‘counter consensus’ view on the outlook for Chinese Telecoms is based on the belief that LTE will cause a reversal of fortune among the key players. China Mobile will solve the biggest problem identified in our consumer research (slow data speeds) and will once again have the ‘best’ mobile network in China on all dimensions. China Unicom, having gained strong momentum on the basis of their superior 3G data speeds will face a slowing of momentum – at least among high value customers seeking the latest technology
Over the last few weeks we have heard many arguments from China Mobile Bears as to why our hypothesis will be wrong. The initial arguments are usually targeted at the technology itself – that TD-LTE is a Chinese standard and a poor cousin to the much better FD-LTE more popular in Europe (it isn’t), that it doesn’t handle voice calls well (irrelevant – no operator in the world has launched a new LTE network with voice over LTE – in all cases they use existing 2G or 3G networks for voice), that handsets will not be available (ever heard of the iPhone? Not to mention Samsung, Sony, HTC, Huawei…)
China Mobile launched its TD-LTE network in Shenzhen for ‘test’ operations in early November. We thought the best way to address the Bear’s technology concerns was to go test the network for ourselves. Nearly 120 speed tests conducted from different indoor and outdoor locations supported our hypothesis that TD-LTE will be demonstratively better than Unicom’s existing 3G network in data speeds. On average we experienced download speeds 10 times faster, upload speeds 7 times faster and a dramatic improvement in latency. We concur that service coverage for LTE is currently weaker, but locations meaningful to high value customers are already largely covered. Coverage will continue to improve as China Mobile rolls out new sites.
Over the last few years, China Mobile has underperformed the market while Unicom has outperformed – we attribute most of the difference in fortune of these two companies to the relative data speed of their respective 3G networks. We believe the launch of TD-LTE services by China Mobile will start the process of reversing this. Speed test in Shenzhen affirm our belief that TD-LTE technology works and is demonstratively superior to W-CDMA in data speeds.
Click to download:
China Telecommunications: Who says TD-LTE doesn’t work?
We experienced lightning speeds in Shenzhen
[a 10 pages long whitepaper by Berstein Research, Nov 18, 2013]
Some important excerpts from that:
China Mobile has been selling TD-LTE devices and rate plans in Shenzhen since November 1st. As 4G licenses are not yet issued, these sales are described as “trials” and are limited to a small number of devices and are only available in a few cities. The LTE rate plans are provisional: service contracts are signed under a 3G rate plan which will transfer to a 4G plan in January. We believe that sales of 4G services in advance of an actual license is an aggressive move, and highlights how important 4G is for China Mobile’s management.
We conducted over 100 speed tests in Shenzhen to compare the new TD-LTE network versus Unicom’s existing 3G network. Unicom has benefited tremendously from China Mobile’s misfortune with TD-SCDMA and its own good fortune of being licensed with WCDMA. Unicom also stands to suffer the most if its leadership on speed is lost. Our proprietary customer research indicated this was a key buying factor for many of Unicom’s existing customers. We went to Shenzhen (one of the cities where China Mobile is already selling 4G services) to pit China Unicom and China Mobile’s networks head-to-head. We conducted ~120 tests across various locations (indoors, outdoors, in-transit, and under-ground) to reach robust conclusions on speed, latency and coverage. Our test approach and sampling criteria are shown on Exhibit 1; our 4G test equipments are shown in Exhibits 2 and 3.
As expected, our test highlighted that TD-SCDMA lags Unicom’s WCDMA in 3G data speeds. First we wanted to confirm Unicom’s data speed superiority over China Mobile on 3G network. As expected we found Unicom’s WCDMA to download and upload around 3 times faster than China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA. TD-SCDMA clocked an average of 1.1MB/s on download and 0.2MB/s on upload, compared to 2.7MB/s and 0.7MB/s for WCDMA. These results were broadly similar to field tests done by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in 2010 (see Exhibits 4 and 5).
However, China Mobile’s TD-LTE is everything it is promised to be: the new leader in data speed. We then moved on to test TD-LTE… We found it had 3 times less latency (Exhibit 6) which improves the browsing experience making the phone feel more responsive. Download speeds clocked an average of 26.2MB/s, which was ~10 times faster than Unicom’s 3G network (Exhibit 7). Upload speeds averaged 5MB/s, which was 7 times faster than Unicom’s 3G (Exhibit 8). These performance levels were consistently observed across all locations where there was a signal. Part of TD-LTE’s outperformance is due to a lack of users on the network, however, given the large amount of spectrum expected to be allocated for LTE services we believe there will continue to be a material performance advantage over WCDMA even as the subscriber base expands.
The TD-LTE network had more coverage gaps but this will improve over time. China Mobile’s TD-LTE network did have some coverage issues, even within urban Shenzhen. However the problem was less significant than feared. All the outdoor sites tested received good signals, and high traffic indoor locations (e.g. shopping malls, cafes) are also covered. The only test site where we failed to receive a signal was the underground metro station (Refer back to Exhibit 1). We suspect there are many more ‘gaps’ around, but these will be progressively fixed over time.
Anecdotally there appears to be pent-up demand for TD-LTE services; improving availability of handsets will be key to unlocking this. Currently there are only two LTE handsets available from China Mobile: a Samsung Galaxy Note II at 5299RMB [$871] and a cheaper Huawei model at 2888RMB [$475]. One clerk told us that since launching 4G “trials” 2 weeks ago, her store had only sold one TD-LTE phone. However many customers with TD-LTE compatible iPhones (5S/5C models bought in Hong Kong) are signing up to 4G plans. We are wary of making too much from this, but agree that improving handset availability will be key to a broader uptake of the service. With integrated 2G/3G/4G chipsets available and China now being the largest smartphone market, we believe it will not be long before a large number of mid to low end devices start to appear on the market.
More than Half of Asian Population Will Be Covered by LTE-TDD by 2018 [ABI Research News, Nov 4, 2013]
LTE network deployments will continue to grow rapidly globally. Time-division duplex (TDD) network is picking up the pace and gaining more market traction. In Asia-Pacific, LTE-TDD networks will cover more than 53% of the population by 2018 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41.1% between 2012 and 2018, while frequency-division duplex (FDD) networks will reach 49% population coverage by the end of 2018.
“The increase of LTE-TDD population coverage is mainly driven by wide deployment in some Asian countries with large populations, such as China, India, and Japan,” comments Marina Lu, research associate at ABI Research. “Due to its complementarity of using unpaired spectrum, a number of LTE-FDD operators will expand their networks with LTE-TDD in additional spectrum to improve network capacity.”
Among Asia-Pacific’s recently completed, on-going, and upcoming 4G spectrum auctions, 25% concern 2,600 MHz, 25% 1,800 MHz, and 20% 800 MHz, which is consistent with the popularity of the 2,600 MHz band for LTE-TDD networks. “Asia-Pacific will be the region with the most LTE-TDD networks,” adds Jake Saunders, VP and practice director. “Of global LTE-TDD concluded contracts awarded to vendors so far, 47% come from Asia-Pacific and the second largest portion of 18% is contributed by the Middle East.”
Considering spectrum efficiency, spectrum bandwidth, network capacity, etc., a number of operators are preparing to upgrade LTE networks to LTE-Advanced networks. In ABI Research’s latest survey, there have been 29 LTE Advanced network commitments worldwide by Q3 2013, of which 10 commitments come from Western Europe, 9 from Asia-Pacific, and 5 from North America.
TD-LTE global market overview [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Sept 13, 2013]
With the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard continuing to develop, international differences in plannings and frequency allocation timetables have resulted in different frequency bands being used in different countries. TD-LTE standard’s greater efficiency in terms of frequency spectrum usage has attracted the attention of carriers in a number of other countries.
21 TD-LTE commercial networks have been launched as of August, 2013, and 39 LTE TDD commercial networks are in progress or planned. (Source: GSA)
TD-LTE’s unique features have also played an important part in the technology’s growing stature in the market. Because TD-LTE makes asymmetrical use of unpaired spectrum, for both uplink and downlink, it is a spectral efficient technology. Spectrum is a valuable commodity for mobile operators, especially those who operate in countries where there is a limited amount of available FDD spectrum; or where only single unpaired frequency is available. Driven by its spectral efficiency, TD-LTE is now increasingly being viewed as an attractive proposition in markets.
GSA confirms 244 LTE networks are commercially launched, LTE1800 now mainstream [news article by GSA, Dec 5, 2013]
The latest update of the Evolution to LTE report from GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 244 operators have commercially launched LTE services in 92 countries.
98 LTE networks have been commercially launched so far in 2013.
The report confirms that 499 operators are investing in LTE in 143 countries. This is made up of 448 firm operator commitments to build LTE networks in 134 countries, plus 51 additional operators engaged in various trials, studies, etc. in a further 9 countries.
From amongst the committed operators, 244 have commercially launched services, which is 78% more than a year ago.
GSA forecasts there will be 260 LTE networks in commercial service by the end of this year.
The majority of LTE operators have deployed the FDD mode of the standard. The most widely used band in network deployments continues to be 1800 MHz which is used in over 44% of commercially launched LTE networks. 108 operators worldwide have launched LTE1800 (band 3) systems, 157% more than a year ago, in 58 countries, either as a single band system, or as part of a multi-band deployment.
1800 MHz spectrum is typically refarmed from its original use for 2G/GSM, facilitated by technology-neutral licensing policies.
As 1800 MHz is the prime band for LTE deployments worldwide, it will greatly assist international roaming for mobile broadband. Mobile licences for 1800 MHz have been awarded to 350+ operators in nearly 150 countries.
The number of LTE1800 terminals has tripled in each of the past 2 years. One third of all announced LTE user devices can operate in 1800 MHz band 3 spectrum. LTE1800 is a mature, mainstream technology.
The next most popular contiguous bands are 2.6 GHz (band 7) as used in 29% of networks in commercial service today, followed by 800 MHz (band 20) in 12% of networks, and AWS (band 4) in 8% of networks.
Interest in the TDD mode continues to be strengthening globally ahead of the large-scale commercial deployments in China. Worldwide, 25 LTE TDD (TD-LTE) systems are commercially launched in 20 countries, of which 12 are deployed in combined LTE FDD & TDD operations.
The report includes a growing list of operators who have commercially launched or preparing to introduce enhancements to their networks including multicarrier support for Category 4 user devices (150 Mbps theoretical peak downlink speed), and LTE-Advanced features, especially carrier aggregation, which is a key trend.
The report also confirms how voice service has moved up the agenda for many LTE operators as network coverage has improved (nationwide in many cases) and as the penetration and usage of LTE-capable smartphones has increased. VoLTE services have been launched by operators in Asia, Europe, and North America and several more operators have committed to VoLTE deployments and launches over the next few months.
The Evolution to LTE report (December 5, 2013) is a free download for registered site users
Registration page for new users: http://www.gsacom.com/user/register
Numerous charts, maps etc. confirming the progress of mobile broadband developments including LTE are also available on the home page and at www.gsacom.com/news/statistics.
GSA confirms 1,240 LTE user devices launched, support building for LTE-Advanced systems [news article by GSA, Nov 7, 2013]
The latest update to the ‘Status of the LTE Ecosystem’ report published by the GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) confirms that 120 manufacturers have announced 1,240 LTE-enabled user devices, including frequency and carrier variants.
680 new LTE user devices were announced in the past year. The number of manufacturers increased by 44% in this period. Smartphones continue to be the largest LTE device category with 455 products released, representing 36% share of all LTE device types. 99% of LTE smartphones also operate on 3G networks (HSPA/HSPA+ or EV-DO or TD-SCDMA technologies).
The report embraced devices that operate on the FDD and/or TDD modes of the LTE system. The majority of products are designed for operation in the FDD mode. However, 274 devices can operate in the LTE TDD (TD-LTE) mode, and this figure is 159 higher than a year ago.
The largest LTE device ecosystems for the FDD bands are as follows:
– 2600 MHz band 7 = 448 devices
– 1800 MHz band 3 = 412 devices
– 800 MHz band 20 = 314 devices
– 2100 MHz band 1 = 305 devices
– 700 MHz bands 12, 17 = 289 devices
– AWS band 4 = 279 devices
– 700 MHz band 13 = 250 devices
– 850 MHz band 5 = 189 devices
– 900 MHz band 8 = 174 devices
– 1900 MHz band 2 = 134 devices
– 2600 MHz band 38 = 197 devices
– 2300 MHz band 40 = 184 devices
– 1900 MHz band 39 = 71 devices
– 2600 MHz band 41 = 63 devices
– 2500 MHz bands 42, 43 = 15 devices
(totals include carrier and operator variants)
The Evolution to LTE report (October 17, 2013) is also available as a free download to registered site users via the link at http://www.gsacom.com/gsm3g/infopapers
Note that by the time of 4G based on TD-LTE the leading edge of LTE will much further ahead as SK Telecom Demonstrates 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced [press release, Nov 28, 2013]
- Successfully demonstrates the upgraded LTE-Advanced: Aggregates 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band to offer up to 225Mbps of speed
- Expects to launch the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ LTE-Advanced service in the second half of 2014 and plans to introduce 3 Band Carrier Aggregation in an early manner
SK Telecom (NYSE:SKM) today held a press conference to demonstrate the upgraded LTE-Advanced service that offers up to 225Mbps of speed by aggregating 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band.
LTE can only offer up to 150Mbps of speeds using a maximum of 20MHz of continuous spectrum in one band, while LTE-Advanced can support speeds over 150Mbps by combining different bands through Carrier Aggregation (CA).
In June 2013, SK Telecom has commercialized, for the first time in the world, LTE-Advanced service using 10MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band. Backed by a wide range of mobile value added services specially designed for the LTE-Advanced network, and a rich lineup of LTE-Advanced capable devices (8 different smartphone models), SK Telecom’s LTE-Advanced service is attracting subscribers at a rapid pace.
Moreover, on August 30, 2013, SK Telecom has gained authorization to operate the 35 MHz bandwidth (20 downlink + 15 uplink) in 1.8GHz band, and immediately launched diverse measures to strengthen both its LTE and LTE-Advanced services by utilizing the newly acquired bandwidth.
Once SK Telecom commercializes the upgraded LTE-Advanced (20MHz+10MHz), customers will be able to download an 800MB movie in just 28 seconds, significantly faster than other networks. Measured at their maximum speeds, downloading the same movie file via 3G, LTE, and the existing LTE-Advanced (10MHz+10MHz) would take 7 minutes and 24 seconds, 1 minute and 25 seconds, and 43 seconds, respectively.
The company said that it expects to launch the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ LTE-Advanced service nationwide through smartphones in the second half of 2014 as the smartphone chipset that supports 225 Mbps of speeds is currently being developed.
Furthermore, by successfully demonstrating the ‘20MHz+10MHz’ CA, SK Telecom moves one step closer to realizing the next level of LTE-Advanced technology: Aggregating three component carriers (20MHz+10MHz+10MHz) to support up to 300Mbps of speed.
Alex Jinsung Choi, Executive Vice President and Head of ICT R&D Division at SK Telecom said, “SK Telecom has been leading the development of wireless networks since it commercialized CDMA (2G) technology for the world’s first time in 1996. Today’s successful demonstration of 225 Mbps LTE-Advanced will serve as a momentum for SK Telecom to realize more innovative network technologies, which will also lead to the growth of relevant industries, including device, content and convergence fields.”
But already SK Telecom, China Mobile agree on automatic LTE roaming service [Yonhap, Dec 5, 2013]
SK Telecom Co., South Korea’s largest mobile operator, said Thursday that it has agreed to launch an automatic international Long Term Evolution (LTE) roaming service with China Mobile Ltd., as well as other LTE services.
Under the deal, travelers and businesspeople will be able to use their regular LTE services offered by the two mobile carriers more easily between the two countries, according to SK Telecom.
About 6.8 million Koreans and Chinese traveled between the two countries last year.
Early this year, SK Telecom and CSL Ltd. of Hong Kong successfully demonstrated the compatibility of their two LTE networks. The international automatic LTE roaming service has been available since June this year.
Since October, SK Telecom also has offered a similar roaming service with Saudi Arabia.
New era for mobiles as 4G licenses issued to carriers [Xinhuanet, Dec 5, 2013]
China issued long-awaited 4G licenses to three telecommunications carriers yesterday, which would offer mobile Internet access 20 to 50 times faster than the current 3G network and create a new trillion-yuan market for devices and services.
China, the world’s biggest mobile phone market, has now officially entered the 4G era five years after it issued 3G licenses. The technology is widely adopted in the United States, Europe, Japan, South Korea and other regional markets.
The network, along with e-commerce and software businesses, is expected to boost information consumption and market demand, and encourage innovation in China, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China Mobile will launch 4G services in Shanghai, Beijing and 11 other cities by the end of this year. The number of cities will expand to 340 by the end of 2014.
Users can upgrade to the 4G network without changing phone numbers, China Mobile said yesterday. It has been testing 4G networks for two years.
China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom all got 4G licenses based on TD-LTE (time division-long term evolution) technology. China Unicom and China Telecom also got approval to test another 4G technology FD-LTE (frequency division-LTE), which is mainly used in overseas markets.
China will issue FD-LTE 4G licenses later, the ministry said.
China Mobile also got the approval to operate fixed-line business including family broadband, which makes it possible to launch bundled services, the ministry added.
“It’s a national strategy to boost commercial 4G development to boost consumption and fuel-related investment,” the ministry said on its website.
The ministry said that 4G had become an engine for the development of the whole IT industry, fueling demand for the latest smartphones. With greatly improved speed and more powerful phones, new mobile Internet services will appear that will enrich people’s daily lives, the ministry said.
With 4G, mobile users can download a film (700 megabytes) in two minutes and a high-quality song (7MB) in less than a second. More 4G-related services such as video on demand, conferencing, high-quality music streaming, multiplayer games and remote video monitoring for medical and security services are being tested, industry insiders said.
The initial investment for 4G will reach 500 billion yuan (US$82 billion) in a few years, and is expected to hit 1 trillion yuan with the industry’s development.
“4G LTE is the fastest growing mobile technology since the inception of mobility some 25 years ago. And we know that mobile broadband will have a huge impact on people, business and society and be one of the most critical infrastructures for any country,” Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Ericsson, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor.
By 2019, China will be home to 700 million mobile subscribers on 4G, making it the world’s biggest 4G market, according to Ericsson.
Equipment makers including Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE and Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell are going to benefit from the 4G wave.
“We are fully prepared for providing handsets for China’s own 4G technology, from entry-level to high-end phones,” said Cher Wang, HTC’s chairman.
China Mobile is going to launch 4G services with a new brand He, meaning harmony in Chinese, on December 17. The carrier may offer iPhones supporting TD-LTE then, according to industry sources.
In cities such as Beijing and Shenzhen, China Mobile have allowed users to apply for trial commercial use of 4G services with their own devices. In Shanghai, more than 1,800 people had been invited to test 4G services.
Its target is to cover 100 cities by the middle of next year and 340 by the end of 2014, when it plans to launch 4G phones that cost less than 1,000 yuan each. In the first half, it will launch 50 new 4G phones.
In Shanghai, nine TD-LTE phones will be available by the end of this year. Users can apply for 4G services at China Mobile’s outlets on Madang Road and Minsheng Road initially, to be expanded to 20 outlets citywide.
Shanghai Mobile also plans to establish an additional 3,000 4G base stations next year from the current 700, to cover the whole city including suburban and rural regions.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)
From 2013 Interim Results Presentation as of Aug 15, 2013
From China Mobile 2012 Annual Report [April 25, 2013]
… starting from 2013, we commenced investments in the development of TD-LTE network. We intend to use the TD-LTE network to primarily carry high bandwidth and high quality wireless broadband businesses. In 2012, the extended large scale trial of the TD-LTE network was carried out in 15 cities in Mainland China and approximately 20,000 base stations were built. The quality and scale of the TD-LTE networks in Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen have reached pre-commercial standard. In addition, we started providing commercial 4G services in Hong Kong in 2012 with the LTE FDD and TD-LTE bandwidths we previously obtained from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority of Hong Kong in 2009 and 2012, respectively. We plan to construct more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in 2013. [Certain 3G base stations may also be upgraded to TD-LTE base stations.]
China Mobile lifts hopes of Apple deal and 4G launch [Shanghai Daily via Xinhuanet, Oct 31, 2013]
China Mobile is raising consumer hopes that the next-generation 4G mobile network will be launched soon and that a long-awaited deal between the world’s largest telco and Apple Inc may be unveiled as early as next week.
The telco’s website displays a cartoon tornado advertisement that announces “the invasion of 4G” and “November 9-11.” The ad links to a page showing two images of smartphones that resemble iPhones and a caption that says “special discounts.”
November 11, or Singles’ Day, is the busiest shopping day of the year in China. Last year, it generated 4 billion U.S.dollars in online sales alone, according to retail consultant McKinsey Global Institute.
China Mobile declined to comment but its senior executives said earlier that it would distribute 4G phones, including Apple’s latest iPhone 5S, after China issues 4G licenses expected by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has approved the sale of several 4G models made by Sony, ZTE and other vendors.
China Mobile hopes the expected tie-up with Apple will boost revenue and profit, especially in the high-end market segment, after its net profit for the first three quarters of this year fell for the first time by 1.9 percent to 91.5 billion yuan (14.8 billion U.S.dollars).
China Mobile’s Beijing branch jumps on 4G technology wave [China Daily USA, Nov 6, 2013]
Carrier to begin sales of newest network-enabled smartphones
Beijing has become the latest Chinese city to join the wave of tests for fourth generation, or 4G, mobile networks, despite the fact that the government has yet to issue 4G licenses to telecom carriers.
On Tuesday, China Mobile Ltd’s Beijing branch said it would start sales of 4G smartphones on Wednesday. The first batch of 4G handsets includes two models – Sony Corp’s M35T and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Galaxy Note 2.
Customers do not need to change their phone numbers but just have to get a new SIM card for their 4G handsets, according to a statement from China Mobile. Fourth-generation wireless networks achieve data download speeds of up to 80 megabits per second, four times faster than 3G networks.
However, the coverage of 4G networks in Beijing is limited, said Gao Shu, a spokeswoman for China Mobile’s Beijing branch. Only people in areas inside the capital’s Third Ring Road will be able to access the network.
“Our 4G smartphones are aimed at high-end, white-collar workers in Beijing,” Gao said.
Before Beijing, a handful of affluent Chinese cities, including Guangzhou and Hangzhou, have started offering 4G services on a trial basis.
China Mobile – the only operator in the country currently testing 4G networks – has adopted the domestic Time Division-Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) 4G technology.
The number of applicants for 4G services is expected to surpass 100,000 in major cities, according to a China Mobile official, who asked not to be named.
Meanwhile, the lack of mature 4G smartphones has long been seen as a major obstacle for the expansion of China Mobile’s 4G business. But the situation has improved in recent months. According to a report from Bank of China International Securities, as of Sept 11, smartphone models received the permission from Chinese authorities to run on 4G networks. The new smartphones are being made by domestic and international companies, including Samsung, Sony, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and ZTE Corp, the report said.
“The planned 4G commercial rollout is very good news for China Mobile, as well as for smartphone companies and mobile Internet companies,” said Wang Jun, an analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.
China Mobile’s net profit dropped 9 percent in the third quarter partly due to the increasing challenges posed by mobile Internet applications such as Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat.
“The 4G business can help the carrier to attract more high-end users from rivals,” Wang said.
Apple Inc has also said that its latest iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C handsets may support TD-LTE technology.
James Yan, an analyst with IDC China, pointed out that the timing for launching 4G services in China is right.
“The environment could not be better. Customers favor smartphones, carriers have the motivation to do 4G services, and distributors know how to sell 4G products to people,” Yan said.
The launch of 4G services in China will definitely be a new driver for the growth of the nation’s smartphone market, he added.
“4G will be an important factor to make people buy new phones,” Yan said.
Ryan Reith, program director at IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, said that China has become one of the fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, accounting for more than one-third of total shipments in the third quarter of the year.
China Mobile to launch all-service brand [China Daily, Nov 20, 2013]
China Mobile Ltd, the nation’s biggest telecom carrier by subscriber numbers, revealed onTuesday that it would officially launch a new brand “He” (And) on Dec 18, mainly targeting the upcoming fourth generation (4G) mobile business.
The new brand’s logo features grass green and peach blossom colors. According to ChinaMobile officials, the company’s current-running brands – GoTone, EasyOwn, M-Zone and G3for 3G mobile services, will be phased out after the launch of “He”.
That means “He” will take the stage as an all-service brand for China Mobile and provide customers with integrated 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services.
Commercial 4G to start December 18 [Shanghai Daily, Nov 25, 2013]
China will start commercial 4G mobile communications services on December 18, bringing the most advanced telecommunications technology to the country’s more than 1 billion mobile users.
China Mobile, the country’s No. 1 mobile operator with over 700 million users, will start 4G services on that date with a new brand He, meaning harmonious in the Chinese language.
China is expected to issue licences for 4G before the telco’s new services start.
“It will be a national event and users are allowed to apply for 4G services without changing numbers,” said a Shanghai Mobile official.
Users in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chongqing will be the first to enjoy commercial 4G, or fourth generation, services. Shanghai, which is still building a citywide 4G network, will launch the services later.
Though China is the world’s biggest mobile phone market with more than 1 billion users on its mainland, it lacks the 4G technology that is used in some other countries and regions including the United States, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The 4G phone will become rapidly popular on China’s mainland, thanks to the low cost of 4G phones, according to Li Yue, China Mobile’s president, who expects some 4G phones priced below 1,000 yuan (US$162) to appear in the second half of next year.
Apple Inc is also set to introduce iPhones supporting the 4G network in China, industry insiders said. The US giant and China Mobile are in negotiations over the 4G iPhone and they will launch it officially on December 18.
China Telecom and China Unicom are now Apple’s carrier partners for its smartphone on the Chinese mainland.
China Mobile still talking to Apple on iPhones [Reuters, Dec 5, 2013 9:27am EST]
Earlier in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the two giants had signed a deal, citing an anonymous source familiar with the matter.
Moody’s: TD-LTE License Is Credit Positive for China Mobile [Moody’ Global Credit Research announcement, Dec 6, 2013]
Hong Kong, December 06, 2013 — Moody’s Investors Service says that the Chinese government’s decision to issue a Time-Division Long-Term Evolution (TD-LTE), or 4G, license, is credit positive for China Mobile Limited (Aa3 stable) as this will help strengthen its market position in the growing wireless data business.
On 4 December, China Mobile announced that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had granted its parent, China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC, unrated), permission to operate the TD-LTE business and China Mobile will assist CMCC in the construction and operations of the TD-LTE network.
China Mobile is likely to enjoy the first mover advantage in the TD-LTE business as it has been investing in the technology since early 2013, well ahead of its competitors.
China Mobile targets to build over 200,000 commercial-ready base stations and expand its network coverage to 100 major cities by the end of this year. It has already started trials in some of the major cities, including Beijing.
While its two major competitors — such as China United Network Communications Group Co Ltd (China Unicom, unrated) and China Telecom Corporation (unrated) — also obtained TD-LTE licenses at the same time, we expect these companies to only start major investments in 2014.
In fact, these companies plan to use Frequency Division Duplex (FDD)-LTE — an international standard used outside China — as their mainstream 4G technology. However, the FDD-LTE licenses have not yet been granted and any delay in the issuance of the licenses will be advantageous for China Mobile.
Although TD-LTE is a home-grown technology, China Mobile is unlikely to be hampered by the lack of choice in 4G handsets, as was the case with its 3G indigenous technology platform (Time Division-Code Division Multiple Access, or TD-SCDMA).
TD-LTE technology has been accepted internationally, with 59 operators and 54 manufacturers joining the global TD-LTE initiative as of H1 2013. In addition, 25 models of TD-LTE trial devices were launched and over 100 models are under development, of which 15 handsets are intended for commercial use.
Moody’s believes that Apple’s new iPhones have also become technologically compatible with TD-LTE, as well as TD-SCDMA, although China Mobile has not yet started selling iPhones.
The launch of TD-LTE is strategically important for China Mobile to strengthen its market position in the growing wireless data business.
China Mobile had about 759 million customers as of October 2013, of which 176 million were 3G customers. Its 3G subscribers are growing rapidly with over 100% growth since May 2013 on a year-over-year basis.
Moody’s expects its wireless data business to continue its solid growth. The wireless data revenue has grown 62% in H1 2013 on a year-over-year basis. In H1 2013 the business accounted for 17% of its telecommunications services revenue, up from 11% in H1 2012.
However, China Mobile’s market share for 3G services has been much smaller than its overall mobile market share. As of October 2013, its 3G market share was 45% (China Unicom 30% and China Telecom 25%) while its overall mobile market share was 62% (China Unicom 23% and China Telecom 15%), largely because of the use of TD-SCDMA despite the recent improvement in its 3G market share.
Moody’s expects the launch of TD-LTE will help China Mobile improve its market position in the wireless data segment and slow the pace of declines in average revenue per user (ARPU), as the ARPU of data users tends to be higher.
The large investments in TD-LTE will continue to pressure China Mobile’s cash flow. Moody’s expects its adjusted free cash flow (FCF)/debt to fall to below 0% in 2013 and 2014 from over 60% in 2012.
Moody’s expects that the company’s adjusted capital expenditure as a percentage of revenue from telecommunications services will increase to over 30% in 2013 and 2014, from below 25% of its revenue in 2012.
Nevertheless, its overall credit profile will remain in line with its rating, supported by its solid overall operating and financial profiles, as well as its excellent liquidity. For example, Moody’s expects China Mobile’s adjusted debt/EBITDA to remain at approximately 0.3x.
The principal methodology used in this rating was the Global Telecommunications Industry published in December 2010. Please see the Credit Policy page on http://www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.
China Mobile is the leading provider of mobile telecommunications services in China, offering voice and data services in all 31 provinces and autonomous regions, as well as in Hong Kong. It is 74% owned by CMCC, which in turn is wholly owned by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
LTE/4G DIGITAL CELLULAR MOBILE SERVICE OPERATION PERMIT [China Telecom’s regulatory announcement for Hong Kong Exchange, Dec 4, 2015]
This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 13.09 of the Rules Governing the Listing of the Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited and Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571 of the Laws of Hong Kong).
The Board (the “Board”) of directors of China Telecom Corporation Limited (the “Company”) announced that the Company was notified by China Telecommunications Corporation (the parent company of the Company) that China Telecom has been granted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the PRC the permit to operate the LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE). Meanwhile, China Telecom will apply for the permit to operate the LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (LTE FDD) as soon as practicable.
In order to proactively implement national innovation strategy and leverage collaborated use of different spectrum resources to meet customers’ demand, the Company aims to adopt a flexible approach in deployment of LTE network with one hybrid network of integrated resources. The Company will flexibly deploy the LTE network with regard to data business growth and value chain development. In particular, the LTE deployment would only start from densely populated areas, overlaying on existing superior 3G network for long-term integrated operation. The Company would grasp the rapidly growing data business opportunities with an aim to better enhance customers experience and corporate return.
The Company believes that the issue of 4G digital cellular mobile service operation permit will be beneficial to the sustainable development of the telecommunications industry. It will also foster the informatisation consumption and economic growth. However, it will simultaneously intensify market competition. The Company will proactively leverage its operation edge and strive to foster the sustainable development of its business.
In the meantime, investors are advised to exercise caution in dealing in the securities of the Company.
By Order of the Board
China Telecom Corporation Limited
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
From Edited Transcript of 2013 Interim Results Investor Presentation and 2013 Interim Results Presentation of Aug 21, 2013:
Slide 10: To Deploy LTE Trial Network Timely & Appropriately
To support national technology innovations and allow flexible use of spectrum resources to meet customer demand, we plan to deploy one hybrid LTE network of integrated resources, sharing the core network with wireless access through both TDD and FDD. Thus, most of the LTE network investments would support both TDD and FDD services, offering us flexibility in long term development and return enhancement.
We will continue to fully leverage existing nationwide superior 3G and fibre broadband networks to serve our customers. LTE deployment would only start from densely populated areas.
We plan to flexibly deploy LTE network with regard to future LTE licensing, data business growth & value chain development, overlaying on existing superior 3G network for long-term integrated operation to enhance customer experience & return.
China Telecom to launch TD-LTE trial network construction [Global TD-LTE Initiative Updates, Oct 25, 2013]
According to informed sources, the Ministry has recently approved the China Telecom launched TD-LTE trial network construction and pre-commercial related business. This means that China Telecom 4G future will get two licenses for FDD LTE/TD-LTE network integration.
“China Telecom will use FDD LTE/TD-LTE network integration approach build 4G network.” China Telecom Chairman Mr. Wang had previously publicly stated that “since the frequency is restricting the operator’s core resources in the 4G era, network integration is inevitable.”
A week ago, China Telecom completed the LTE core network master device EPC Jicai tender. It is understood that although China Telecom’s LTE core network master device bidding amount is not large, but the coverage of the country’s 31 provinces, including ZTE, Huawei, Shanghai Bell, Ericsson and other equipment manufacturers, including domestic and international mainstream have received certain share, which, ZTE, Huawei, Shanghai Bell’s winning share is relatively large.
It is understood that the successful vendor device support FDD/TDD multi-mode network, this also shows that China Telecom has begun preparations related to the deployment of TD-LTE.
Late last year, China Telecom in Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities in Guangdong 4G trial, however, was mainly dominated by FDD LTE trial network. The Ministry of approval, indicating that China Telecom has determined will be FDD LTE/TD-LTE 4G mode hybrid network test network construction.
Prior to the introduction, according to Mr. Wang in China Telecom’s 4G network planning, large-scale, wide coverage 4G networks will use FDD standard, while the urban area densely populated areas will use TDD system, using this integrated program will be able to achieve all of the user needs.
In addition, from China Telecom’s terminal planning can be seen that China Telecom in 4G mobile phones mainly uses standard FDD LTE multimode phones, but in the data card is the main use of TD-LTE network resources.
Announcement LTE/4G Digital Cellular Mobile Service Operation (TD-LTE) Permit [China Unicom’s regulatory announcement for Hong Kong Exchange, Dec 4, 2015]
This announcement is made pursuant to Rule 13.09 of the Rules Governing the Listing of Securities on The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (the “Listing Rules”) and Part XIVA of the Securities and Futures Ordinance (Cap. 571).
On 4 December 2013, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited (the “Company”) was notified by its ultimate parent company, China United Network Communications Group Company Limited (中國聯合網絡通信集團有限公司) (“Unicom Parent”), that Unicom Parent has been granted the license to operate LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE) by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China (“MIIT”) on 4 December 2013. MIIT has also granted approval for Unicom Parent to license China United Network Communications Corporation Limited (中國聯合網絡通信有限公司), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company, to operate LTE/4G digital cellular mobile service (TD-LTE) nationwide in China.
Meanwhile, the Company will continue to proactively apply for the launch of LTE FDD technology test run. It aims to leverage on the 3G network in order to provide users with mobile broadband data services with a higher speed.
By Order of the Board
CHINA UNICOM (HONG KONG) LIMITED
CHU KA YEE
From 2013 Interim Results Presentation as of Aug 8, 2013
From INTERIM REPORT 2013 as of August 8, 2013
To support its sustainable growth in the future, the Company further enhanced its network capabilities with a focus on network architecture as well as mobile, broadband and transmission networks so as to strengthen its network advantages in broadband and mobile Internet. In the first half year, the Company added 33 thousand new 3G base stations, and opened HSPA+ 21Mbps services over the whole 3G network, with speed up to 42Mbps at some urban hot spot areas. The Company accelerated fiber optic deployment. Its broadband access ports increased by 19.9% year-on-year, and FTTH/B accounted for 63% of total access ports, representing an increase of 10 percentage points over the same period last year. In order to better meet the demand from HSPA+, LTE and integrated services, the Company optimised the structure and enhanced the coverage of its infrastructure and transmission networks.
From China’s telecom firms reveal 4G strategies [Xinhuanet, June 27, 2013]
… the other two smaller Chinese telecom operators – China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd – have expressed their willingness to adopt the Frequency Division Duplex-Long Term Evolution, or FDD-LTE, technology, or at least to build a converged network under both standards.
TD-LTE and FDD-LTE are the two major 4G international standards, but the latter has gained more popularity across the globe and has stronger industry support.
Lu Yimin, general manager of China Unicom, said the company is conducting tests for 4G wireless networks with mixed technologies. It is the first time that China Unicom has admitted that it is actively preparing to launch 4G services.
However, Lu added that because the Chinese government has not yet awarded the 4G licenses, China Unicom’s final strategy is still “uncertain.” Lu also made the remarks at Shanghai’s Mobile Asia Expo.
Last weekend, Wang Xiaochu, China Telecom’s chairman, confirmed that the company is stepping up efforts for its LTE network trials.
“It’s inevitable (for China Telecom) to adopt a converged network, since the spectrum is at the core of every carrier’s resources,” Wang said.
China Unicom tests 4G network [China Daily via Xinhuanet, Aug 9, 2013]
China United Network Communications Co Ltd, known as China Unicom, said on Thursday that it has started testing a TD-LTE 4G network, which it will use if the government doesn’t allow it to use its favored FDD-LTE technology in the upcoming 4G licensing process.
China’s second-biggest mobile operator by subscribers is said to have taken the preemptive action because it expects the government to follow a similar strategy as in its 3G auction, when it first awarded licenses for TD-LTE networks, a technology which is mostly backed by its arch-rival China Mobile Ltd, which has the most subscribers in the country.
The government is widely expected to award 4G licenses before the end of the year. And if it licenses TD-LTE networks first, it will give China Mobile a big edge in the 4G market over its competitors.
After reporting a 55 percent jump in its first-half profit, Chang Xiaobing, the company’s chairman, said investment on TD-LTE technology has already started and testing will begin in major cities. Funds will come from Hong Kong-listed China Unicom, rather than from its controlling company China United Network Communications Corp Ltd, which previously funded some of China Unicom’s network tests.
“I expect Beijing to license TD-LTE first, so we have to prepare,” Chang told a news conference in Hong Kong on Thursday.
Beijing favors TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long-Term Evolution, because the network’s core technologies are developed by Chinese companies. The technology was developed specifically for the Chinese market and is expected to serve a quarter of the global market by 2016.
China Unicom’s infrastructure mainly supports FDD-LTE, or Frequency Division Duplexing Long-Term Evolution, which is the world’s dominant 4G technology. Out of the 156 commercial 4G networks operating around the world in March 2013, 142 were FDD-LTE and 14 were TD-LTE networks. China Mobile operates a FDD-LTE network in Hong Kong and is trying to integrate it with the mainland’s TD-LTE market.
Chang said China Unicom’s capital expenditure will stay within the full-year budget of 80 billion yuan (12.96 billion U.S. dollars), despite the planned investment in TD-LTE networks.
Media reports said that China Telecom Corp Ltd, the other major operator in China, will rent China Mobile’s TD-LTE 4G infrastructure. Chang refused to say if China Unicom will do the same.
China Unicom’s first-half profit surged to 5.32 billion yuan compared with 3.43 billion yuan in the same period in 2012. Revenue was up 18.6 percent to 144.3 billion yuan, boosted by a 52 percent increase in income from 3G services to 40.9 billion yuan. The company’s 3G subscribers grew a stunning 74 percent to more than 100 million.
China Unicom shares gained 2.67 percent on Thursday. Trading of the stocks was suspended in the afternoon, after the website of the State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission published the company’s earnings before they were reported to the Hong Kong stock exchange. China Unicom shares surged after the disclosure at around 3:30 pm.
A China Unicom spokesman apologized for the incident and promised it won’t happen again.
China Unicom to procure TD-, FDD-LTE equipment, says report [DIGITIMES, Oct 24, 2013]
China United Network Communications (China Unicom) has started an open-bid process for procuring 34,000 FDD-LTE base stations, 10,000 TD-LTE base stations and 8,000 FDD-LTE small cells, according to China-based tech.sina.com.
Of the mobile telecom carriers in China, China Mobile has adopted TD-LTE only, while China Telecom and China Unicom have adopted FDD LTE as their main 4G standard and TD-LTE as an auxiliary in line with the China government’s policy promoting TD-LTE.
China Telecom procured about 50,000 FDD-LTE base stations and about 20,000 TD-LTE ones in the third quarter of 2013.