China Telecom eyes FDD-LTE

China Telecom's top executive said the operator would prefer to build its next-generation network based on the FDD flavor of LTE rather than use TD-LTE.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China Telecom CEO Wang Xiaochu said during an earnings conference that it would be less expensive for the operator to build an FDD-LTE network, which would offer immediate compatibility with a variety of the most popular handsets already built for it.

The statement came days after rival China Mobile disclosed it will invest $6.7 billion in rolling out TD-LTE this year, potentially setting up the operator to finally carry the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone, which is not compatible with the carrier's existing TD-SCDMA network.

China Telecom already offers the iPhone for its CDMA2000 network, but subsidies and marketing for the device have harmed the operator's bottom line. The company announced its 2012 net profit slid 9.5 percent from the prior year.

China Telecom said it expects to spend $12 billion in capex this year, 3.3 percent more than it spent in 2012 but much less than the $30 billion budgeted by China Mobile.

China Telecom, which is China's largest fixed-line operator by subscribers but only the third largest wireless operator, acquired its mobile unit in 2008 from China Unicom as part of a restructuring of China's telecoms sector. According to Bloomberg, China Telecom has 160.6 million mobile customers, compared with 710.3 million customers at China Mobile and 239.3 million at China Unicom.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)
- see this China Telecom presentation (PDF)
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article

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