3G has been up and running in China for barely a year, but some experts are calling for the government to move the industry quickly to LTE.
Just 20 million or so of China’s 783 million mobile users are 3G subscribers, according to subs figures from the three carriers. The industry giant, China Mobile, had signed up just 3.4 million 3G subs to the end of June using the state-developed TD-SCDMA technology.
However, debate is reportedly underway within the operator over the transition to LTE. One China Mobile executive told an internal meeting last week that the carrier “should not hesitate” to adopt 4G, claiming China Mobile’s LTE development was “already at a mature stage.”
But another senior exec said top officials held “fears over the pressures of LTE.” He warned that China Mobile, which has just shouldered the burden of rolling out TD-SCDMA, “cannot aimlessly make a massive investment in LTE.”
Other experts told Chinese telecom website ccidcom.com that they agreed with the push for early deployment of TD-LTE and called for its accelerated internationalization, which includes development of integrated FDD and TD-LTE chipsets.
Prof. Song Junde of the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications said China Mobile “urgently needed TD-LTE technology.”
He said rival China Telecom had been trialing FDD-LTE at the Shanghai Expo. “If the government allowed it, China Mobile also could use FDD-LTE and could again quickly become the leader in subscribers and bandwidth.”
Yang Peifang, secretary-general of the Ministry for Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) economic experts committee, said that if confined without international expansion the technology “will die.”
Another expert said that the ministry needed to issue licenses “no later than 2012” but warned that because of the large 3G investment, operators “face pressure in every direction.”