The world's largest mobile operator, China Mobile, announced it will introduce 10 TD-LTE smartphone models during the first half of 2013.
The operator intends to have more than 100 models available by 2014, with smartphones from ZTE, Huawei and even Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in the lineup, according to a Xinhuanet article, which cited Li Zhengmao, China Mobile vice president, as saying that Apple will probably launch an iPhone that supports TD-LTE before 2014.
A dearth of handsets is a bottleneck in TD-LTE's development, he said, but added, "The TD-LTE industry chain has become mature and it will have enough models within one or two years."
Xinhuanet noted that ZTE is launching a TD-LTE phone by the end of this year with a 4.5-inch screen and dual-core chip. The phone is already being used in trials in Guangdong Province.
China Mobile, which has some 700 million customers, is testing TD-LTE networks in 13 cities, including Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou. China's government has said it will not issue TD-LTE licenses for another couple of years at least, but that has not curtailed widespread deployment of what are being termed trial TD-LTE networks.
In related news, Ted Matsumoto, chief strategy officer at Japan's Softbank, said that operator is in negotiations with China Mobile regarding future TD-LTE roaming, according to a MobilityTechZone article.
Matsumoto also revealed that Softbank's TD-LTE network now has 100,000 users served by 7,000 TD-LTE base stations, with the operator expecting to build out 3,000 more base stations by year's end. Softbank is expected to introduce a Huawei-produced TD-LTE-based smartphone model this October or November.
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