China Solidifies 4G Plans

China Mobile said it will invest $6.7 billion in rolling out TD-LTE this year, potentially setting up the operator to finally get an Apple iPhone that will work on its network, reports Fierce Wireless.

The operator expects to end 2013 with more than 200,000 TD-LTE base stations in 13 cities, up from the 20,000 base stations it had deployed by the end of last year. The $7 billion TD-LTE investment is part of a much larger $30 billion capex budget outlined by China Mobile for 2013. The operator spent only $19.7 billion on capex in 2012.

Meanwhile, China Unicom joined China Telecom in stating its preference to use the FDD-LTE protocol that is commonly used in the U.S.

A Chinese telecommunications official said this month that 4G licenses could be issued by year-end. The government could still issue China Unicom a license for TD-LTE instead. China Unicom is expected to decrease capital spending to no more than the equivalent of $12.8 billion this year from $15.9 billion last year. He cited a “dramatic” improvement in network coverage last year, when the company added 92,000 base stations.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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