China Unicom takes firm stance on FDD LTE

Fiona Chau
22 Mar 2013

China Unicom has asserted that it will choose FDD technology over TDD for its future LTE network, and plans an initial investment of up to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to roll out its 4G network.

Chairman and CEO Chang Xiaobing said the company will “actively prepare” for the pending issuance of 4G licenses and prefers to adopt a technology roadmap that best fit its business strategy and current network, ie. migrating from W-CDMA to FDD LTE.

“The future 4G network must allow us to have a very smooth migration from [our] current 3G network, and we will be standing very firm with this direction,” Chang said at a media briefing on Thursday.

An official from the Ministry of Industry and Information has indicated earlier that China will give out 4G licenses by year-end. While there are speculations that the government may issue Unicom a license for TD-LTE, Chang said “there has been no message or pressures from the regulator [requiring Unicom] to adopt the TD-LTE technology.”

Chang’s comment comes a day after China Telecom stated it prefers FDD standard for its future 4G network.

He said Unicom will initially spend 10 billion yuan or less each year in its 4G network. Comparatively, bigger rival China Mobile announced last week it would spend a hefty 41.5 billion yuan on building “commercial-ready” TD-LTE networks this year .

Unicom, which reported a 68.5% surge in net profit to 7.1 billion yuan in 2012, will lower its capital spending to 80 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) this year from nearly 997.9 billion yuan in 2012, after maintaining a high level of capex over the last few years.

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