China's growing 4G momentum

Basharat Ashai/Maravedis
11 Feb 2011

China has become the largest consumer of mobile phones and, on a voice usage basis, the largest service market in the world.


The aggregate number of mobile subscribers of the three main telecom operators (China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom) stood at approximately 823 million as of the end of November 2010.


According to the statistics released by these three, China had 42 million 3G subscribers at this time, China Mobile leading with a share of 45%, while China Unicom and China Telecom had 30% and 25%, respectively.


China Unicom's 3G service subscribers account for approximately 8% of its total mobile service user numbers, while for China Mobile the figure is approximately 3%. Neither of these are impressive by any standards.


Compared with China Telecom's CDMA2000 and China Unicom's WCDMA network, China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network did not gain the upper hand in the 3G market.


In order to address the limitations in its existing 3G TD-SCDMA services (such as handsets only addressing the domestic market, and the limitations of global roaming forcing operators to reinforce dual mode/multiple mode handset development), China Mobile has accelerated its TD-LTE development plans.


China Mobile is driving most of the momentum behind TD-LTE in China. The operator is trying to gain support for TD-LTE outside the country so that it is not limited by lower equipment volumes.


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