China Unicom to kickstart TD-LTE next month

China Unicom to kickstart TD-LTE next month

Fiona Chau  |   February 28, 2014
China Unicom, the No.2 mobile carrier in the country, said Thursday it will launch its 4G LTE network in March, with nationwide commercial services expected by December.
The company will switch on its TD-LTE network in 25 cities on March 18 and provide trial services to customers at the launch, said China Unicom president and executive director Lu Yiming.
 “We will introduce commercial trial TD-LTE services in 56 cities on May 17 and roll out commercial LTE services in over 300 cities across the country by year-end,” Lu told reporters at its results conference in Hong Kong yesterday.
Lu didn’t disclose the details of the pricing but said Unicom will position its 4G service as a mobile broadband service that combines both 4G (FDD/TDD LTE) and 3G/W-CDMA.
The MIIT gave out TD-LTE licenses to the country’s three mobile carriers in December, but hasn’t yet disclosed the timeline for FDD-LTE licensing.
Unicom, which prefers the more popular FDD version of LTE, is the last mobile carrier among the three operators to launch TD-LTE.
Rivals China Mobile and China Telecom introduced commercial 4G services last year and in February, respectively. China Mobile, which has been pinning its hopes on 4G to regain growth momentum, also announced this week at Mobile World Congress that it will expand its TD-LTE network coverage to over 340 cities with 500,000 base stations across the country and roll out commercial VoLTE service by year-end.
Chairman and chief executive Chang Xiaobing said Unicom hopes the government will release licenses for the FDD-LTE standard soon, and the company will expand its network in both standards.
“In 2014 our first priority is to optimize our 3G/W-CDMA network as much as possible and based on that we can deploy FDD/LTE once the [FDD LTE] license is issued,” Chang said. 

According to Unicom, the company expanded the number of 3G base stations to 407,000,  and upgraded its whole W-CDMA network to support HSPA+, which can offer downlink speed up to 21Mbps. Unicom has also upgraded 3G base stations with DC-HSPA+ technology that can support downlink speed up to 42Mbps.

Fiona Chau


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