China Mobile confirms TD-LTE suppliers, as iPhone goes live

China Mobile has finally confirmed its selection of vendors for its first TD-LTE contracts, which are believed to be worth around 20 billion yuan ($3.27 billion, or €2.41 billion).

In a post on its web site this week, the Chinese mobile giant said it had selected nine vendors, including leading European-based equipment manufacturers Ericsson, Nokia Solutions and Networks (NSN), and Alcatel-Lucent (through Shanghai Bell Alcatel-Lucent), along with six domestic vendors including Huawei, ZTE, Datang Mobile, Wuhan-based FiberHome Technologies, Potevio and New Postcom Equipment Company.

The operator did not reveal any financial details or provide the percentage of the contract per vendor, although Reuters recently reported that Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent and NSN had each gained around 10 per cent of the contract, while Huawei and ZTE had been awarded around 25-26 per cent each.

According to Telecom Asia, the operator in July selected 16 companies to supply 206,500 devices--including mobile hotspots (150,000), data cards (30,000), CPE (20,000) and handsets (6,500)-- for its TD-LTE network.

Nevertheless, China Mobile has yet to sign a deal to sell Apple iPhones to its subscribers, although the newest versions of the devices, the 5c and 5s, went live in China on Friday and are available from rival operators China Telecom and China Unicom. Apple has gained a licence for the China Mobile network, however, and is believed to be close to a distribution deal with the country's largest mobile operator. China Mobile has more than 740 million customers and is the world's largest operator by subscribers.

This is the first time that Apple has launched a new iPhone model in China at the same time as its other major markets, in an indication of how important the market is to the U.S. company because of China's huge scale.

According to Bloomberg, initial signs are that the 5s is proving more popular among Chinese users than the cheaper 5c model, although analysts have questioned whether prices--more than the equivalent of $700--will be too expensive for customers in China.

One local government bureaucrat, Tony Yu, told Bloomberg that he spent one month's pay on a new iPhone. "But it's worth it," said Yu, who drove more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) to be at a Beijing store by 6 a.m. local time for the launch.

For more:
- see this Telecom Asia article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this FT article (sub. req.)
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

Related Articles:
Report: Huawei, ZTE win 50% of China Mobile TD-LTE contract
European Commission denies link between probe delay and Chinese TD-LTE tender
Europe's vendors jostle for slice of massive China TD-LTE tender
The timing of the EU's warning to China is a worry for Europe's vendors
China hits back over EU threat to Huawei, ZTE