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China to issue 4G licenses in 2013
March 6, 2013, 2:03 pm


China has 1.11 billion mobile phone users [Xinhua]

China will start licensing telecom operators to offer services on its fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone network within 2013, announces the minister of information technology.

“China has made breakthroughs in R&D of 4G technologies, but is still facing restrictions in commercial use,” Miao Wei, minister of industry of information technology, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the country’s national legislature.

Miao said that China is looking to further encourage private investment in the telecom industry.

With 1.11 billion mobile phone users, China is already the biggest mobile market in the world.

A trial period for 4G mobile phone network for commercial use was launched earlier in February in two cities in east China’s Zhejiang Province.

With a $80 deposit, subscribers to China Mobile in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang, and Wenzhou, can access the 4G service.

“We will promulgate supporting policies at an appropriate time to guide the construction and development of the 4G network,” Miao added.

China Mobile, China’s largest mobile operator, employs TD-LTE technology, or Time Division Long Term Evolution, one of two international standards, for the 4G network.

Its maximum internet speed is up to 10 times faster than 3G.

China Mobile grew by 5.87 million in January to reach 655.44 million subscribers — over six times as many customers as Verizon in the US, which hit 108.7 million subscribers at the end of 2011.

China’s population stood at 1.354 billion at the end of 2012, so there is still scope for the telecom market to grow.

With the advancement of 4G technology, 4G wireless cards and 4G mobile phones are expected to be ready for commercial use this year.

China’s telecom giant ZTE saw shares closing 8.9 per cent higher on the news.

China Mobile began building a trial 4G network in several Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, in 2011.

The city is currently home to over 2,400 4G base stations, covering an area of around 500 square km.

Source: Agencies