The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has given the two companies permission to conduct trials of their hybrid FDD/TDD LTE networks in an additional 24 cities.
The new trial cities include Beijing, Tianjin, Dongguan, Xiamen, and Changchun.
The announcement gives China Telecom and Unicom a much-needed lift against market leader China Mobile in the race of 4G, which has a well-established TD-LTE network covering more than 300 cities across the country.
Due to the government-inflicted 4G regulatory policy, China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers, has received a significant head start in its 4G rollout and garnered over 20 million TD-LTE subscribers since its commercial launch in December.
China Mobile added 26.4 million new subscribers in the first seven month of the year, totaling its subscriber base to 784.6 million. In comparison, China Unicom had 296 million mobile customers and China Telecom 180 million.
As of July, China had nearly 513.7 million 3G and 4G subscribers, with China Mobile owning the majority 51% (261.4 million), while Unicom captured 28% (143 million) and China Telecom 21% (109.3 million).
China Telecom is the only operator among the three carriers seeing a decline in subscriber base. The company lost 5.54 million mobile customers in the Jan-July period [see table below], due to cutbacks on handset subsidies and increased market competition driven by China's 4G launches and strengthened marketing effort by China Mobile and Unicom.