China Mobile said it hopes to complete the next phase of its TD-LTE network trials by June and is pushing to get device makers, including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), on board with the network technology. China Mobile's progress is a boost to Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR), which announced in September that it will collaborate with China Mobile to speed up the development of TD-LTE devices.
In an interview in September with FierceBroadbandWireless, Clearwire CTO John Saw said the primary goal of the partnership is to accelerate the development of a global multi-band, multi-mode chipset that incorporates frequencies between 2.3 GHz and 2.7 GHz.
However, because Clearwire's push into TD-LTE remains on hold while it searches for more funding, China Mobile's progress is propelling the partnership forward. The Chinese carrier, the world's largest by subscribers, finished preliminary trials of the TD-LTE network in six cities with 850 base stations, Li Zhengmao, an executive vice president at China Mobile Communications, said at a press conference in Hong Kong. Li said the company has made "remarkable progress" in its trials, according to Reuters.
The next phase for China Mobile is to have the network running for "large scale commercial" use, and the company plans to launch a network demonstration in Beijing's main Chang An Street and in the city's financial district. "4G handsets and data terminals are expected to be ready for mass production next year. We will launch 4G services commercially when both the network and devices are ready," said Bill Huang, the general manager of China Mobile's Research Institute, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
China Mobile has been pushing Apple to produce a TD-LTE iPhone and the company has said it is confident Apple will make one, though Apple has not commented it.
Clearwire, meanwhile, has said it needs $600 million to deploy TD-LTE over its mobile WiMAX footprint. Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), Clearwire's majority owner and largest wholesale customer, said it may use a portion of the $4 billion in debt it recently raised to fund Clearwire. Sprint also said last month that it signed a non-binding deal with Clearwire to jointly work on LTE network development. The agreement covers cell site selection, site builds, chipsets for devices and is intended to assure seamless handoffs between Sprint's forthcoming LTE network and Clearwire's LTE network.
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article
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