China Mobile launching LTE this week in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong unit of China Mobile intends to launch LTE this Wednesday over a multimode network that supports both the FDD and TDD versions of LTE.

The operator said its launch will feature at least two handsets and will offer peak download speeds of 100 Mbps with peak upload speeds up to 35 Mbps. The operator also said it expects to offer 10 LTE-enabled handsets by year's end.

China Mobile had previously stated it would launch LTE in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by the fourth quarter of 2012 or once handsets that could support both the FDD and TDD modes of LTE became available.

China Mobile is Hong Kong's second LTE operator, following Telstra's CSL unit, which launched FDD-LTE in Hong Kong in November 2010. Hutchison (3), PCCW and SmarTone-Vodafone are all expected to introduce FDD-LTE networks in Hong Kong this year as well.

Mainland China, however, is expected to take the TD-LTE route. In February, China Mobile announced it would roll out 20,000 TD-LTE base stations by year's end, upping that number to 200,000 by the end of 2013. However, the Chinese government has said it will delay awarding TDD-LTE licenses on the mainland for two to three years.

According to an article on Telegeography, China Mobile won 2600 MHz band FDD spectrum during 2009 in Hong Kong and added a 2330-2360 MHz TDD band license in February 2012, which enables the operator to offer integrated dual-mode FDD and TDD LTE services in the territory.

Though the Hong Kong LTE launch is not slated to start till April 25, China Mobile on April 20 began offering Hong Kong-based customers cross-border data sharing plans that include LTE and the TD-SCDMA 3G technology used on the mainland. Previous data roaming services were based on 2.5G network access, according to Telegeography.

China Mobile last week announced that its year-on-year unaudited net profit had risen 3.5 percent thanks to an expanding customer base.

The operator's first-quarter 2012 net profit was 27.8 billion yuan ($4.41 billion), up from 26.86 billion yuan in the prior-year period.

China Mobile had 667.195 million total users at the end of March. The company reported 59.563 million customers on its homegrown TD-SCDMA network at the end of the first quarter, which gained 2.975 million subs in March and 2.646 million in February. Wireless data was up 181 percent from a year earlier, though China Mobile is struggling with a rise in the number of customers who use less data.

China Mobile is the world's largest mobile operator. Its rivals in China are China Unicom and China Telecom.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Telegeography article
- see this Inquisitr article
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

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