China Telecom, Unicom expand 4G trials to 40 cities

Fiona Chau
29 Aug 2014

With the MIIT’s permission to expand its 4G trial, industry watchers expect China Telecom to aggressively start expanding its 4G presence across the country to reverse the customers it lost to rivalries.

Earlier this week China Telecom chief executive Wang Xiaochu said China Telecom plans to invest about 80 billion ($13 billion) in capex this year, half of which would be spent on rolling out its 4G network.

According to Wang, China Telecom will expand its 4G network coverage in key cities and high data traffic areas with 140,000 base stations and 60,000 indoor radio distribution systems by year-end. It will also increase the number of models of 4G handsets to 100 by year's end, in a bid to lure more customers to sign up its 4G service.

Unicom said earlier this month that it will deploy an additional 100, 000 LTE base stations in the second half in a bid to expand its integrated 3G/4G network coverage across the country.

China Telecom and Unicom received a FDD/LTE trial license from the MIIT in June to test 4G services in 16 cities. Both companies also have a TD-LTE license but plan to deploy hybrid FDD/TDD LTE networks due to the network compatibility issue. The two are expected to receive an official license for a fully commercial FDD LTE rollout in early 2015.

Chinese mobile carriers’ key operating data

As of July 31, 2014

China Mobile

China Telecom

China Unicom

Total customers

(market share)

784.6 mln (62%)

180 mln


296 mln


Net addition for the month

3 mln



Cumulative net addition for the year

26.4 million

(-5.54 mln)

14.9 mln

3G customers

241 mln

108.7 mln

143 mln

(3G & 4G)

4G customers



(by mid-Aug)

Source: Operators' statistics and Telecom Asia


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