China to extend 4G LTE TDD trials to 100 cities in 2013

China is expected to issue commercial licenses for the 4G networks near the end of next year

China plans to extend trials of its 4G LTE TDD networks to about 100 cities in 2013, according to Alcatel-Lucent, as the nation is expected to issue commercial licenses for the new networks sometime next year.

The nation's largest mobile carrier, China Mobile, is currently focusing on deploying 20,000 base stations in 13 cities across China as part of trials for its 4G LTE TDD networks. On Wednesday, Alcatel-Lucent said the company had won the contract to deploy the largest share of those base stations, at 3,000, in the cities of Shanghai, Nanjing and Qingdao.

China Mobile has almost 700 million subscribers. It has been overseeing construction of the trial networks, which use LTE TDD (Long-Term Evolution Time-Division Duplex) technology, or better known as TD-LTE in the country.

The new networks will offer a significant speed boost over China Mobile's 3G networks, which currently can reach a peak download rate of 14Mbps. In contrast, the new LTE TDD networks can reach a peak speed of 100Mbps, according to Alcatel-Lucent.

The networks will installed by the company's joint venture in China, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell. Deployment of the 3,000 base stations will occur in the first quarter of next year, said Andrew Butterworth, CEO of the Alcatel-Lucent's joint venture in China. When the 4G LTE TDD trials are extended to 100 cities next year, about 200,000 base stations will need to be deployed, he added.

"As we look at the 4G deployment globally, there is no doubt in my mind, that China will become a key 4G LTE market in the coming years," he said in an interview.

China has already become the world's largest smartphone market by shipments, and the country has a billion mobile subscribers.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service

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