China approves hybrid FDD/TDD LTE trials

30 Jun 2014

China Unicom and China Telecom have both confirmed that they have been granted approval to operate trial FDD LTE networks.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has given the all clear for the operators to conduct hybrid FDD/TDD LTE network trials in 16 cities on the mainland.

China Unicom said it will conduct the trial in the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Zhengzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Xi’an, Changsha, Jinan, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Harbin, Fuzhou, Nanjing and Shijiazhuang.

The operator will conduct the hybrid network trial through wholly-owned subsidiary China United Network Communications Corporation.

Rival China Telecom has been granted approval for a trial in Shanghai, Xi'an, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Nanjing, Jinan, Hefei, Shijiazhuang, Haikou, Zhengzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Nanchang, Nanning and Lanzhou.

Neither operator has set a target for launching their respective trials, and neither announcement mentions when the MIIT might grant full FDD LTE licenses.

News that the MIIT had signed off on proposals for FDD LTE network trials started circulating through Chinese media last week. The reports suggested that the ministry is considering granting commercial FDD LTE licenses early next year.

Both China Unicom and China Telecom have expressed a preference for FDD LTE technology, but have been forced to start rolling out TD-LTE initially due to the government's decision to award TD-LTE licenses first.

The decision has given mobile incumbent China Mobile a head-start in China's 4G race, and its rivals will be eager to catch up.

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