China Telecom and China Unicom have received licences to begin trialling FDD-LTE networks in 16 Chinese cities.
However, neither firm has yet received a commercial FDD LTE licence, and the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology has not supplied a timeframe for their issue. Both operators received TD-LTE licences last year.
The two operators plan on providing LTE services using both TDD and FDD technologies, unlike market leader China Mobile which has thrown its whole weight behind the locally-developed TDD strain – affording it a head start on its rivals. The market leader has already begun its network buildout.
China Unicom plans to evolve its current WCDMA with FDD LTE technology, while deploying a TD-LTE network that covers major coastal cities and provincial capitals. China Telecom meanwhile is aiming to allow the majority of its LTE operation to support both technologies.
The Chinese government has displayed a more favourable attitude to TD-LTE as a large number of Chinese firms were involved in its development. The strain is being championed by China Mobile but also has support from major operators in India and Japan, and is gaining further traction internationally – unlike its predecessor, TD-SCDMA.
The Global TD-LTE Initiative actively encourages operators to support the two strains simultaneously as this makes more efficient use of the various spectrum allocations.