China Mobile ditches Wi-Fi rollout efforts amid TD-LTE push

China Mobile is reportedly planning to stop expanding its Wi-Fi network after deploying 4.3 million hotspots at a cost of around $2.75 billion because the operator is finding that the network is uneconomic. According to a post from Light Reading's Hong Kong-based contributing editor, Robert Clark, China Mobile will instead focus on its TD-LTE deployment. The report noted that Wi-Fi data traffic last year accounted for 74 percent of all of China Mobile's data traffic but made up just 2.6 percent of revenue. The operator got just $2.41 per month from each Wi-Fi user, which was "not even enough for network optimization, let alone ROI," a Henan Mobile official in charge of Wi-Fi told Sohu IT. In the meantime, China Mobile is going full-bore with its TD-LTE rollout and plans to deploy 500,000 base stations in 300 cities by year-end. Article

Meanwhile, while China Mobile's recently announced infrastructure joint venture with China Telecom and China Unicom could save the operators money, it could also cut into China Mobile's lead in deploying LTE. The deal to jointly build and operate cell towers via the JV, called China Communications Facilities Services, could potentially help China Telecom and China Unicom more quickly expand their own LTE networks by giving them access to China Mobile's larger portfolio of telecommunication assets, according to analysts. Barclays said China Mobile's coverage advantage could eventually disappear as a result of the JV, according to the Wall Street JournalArticle (sub. req.)