China Mobile has revealed plans to launch commercial Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband services via its wholly owned subsidiary China Mobile Hong Kong (formerly Peoples) in the fourth quarter of 2012, over a network based on 2600MHz FDD and 2300MHz TDD band spectrum. The group’s annual financial results announcement states simply that ‘We will launch LTE TDD/FDD commercial service in the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (SAR) in 2012.’ China Mobile executive director and vice chairman Xi Guohua added that China Mobile will launch commercial services in the SAR as soon as the fourth quarter, after handsets that support both FDD and TDD become available. Quoted by Telecomasia, Xi said that the Hong Kong FDD/TDD network ‘is a very meaningful step to us. It can lay a good foundation to our implementation of TD-LTE services in mainland China.’ TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported at the start of this month that China Mobile’s mainland Chinese second-phase TD-LTE trials are due to start later this year in three additional cities, bringing the number of cities involved in the trials to nine, whilst the main urban districts of Hangzhou and Shenzhen will reach ‘pre-commercial standard’, but the upcoming launch in the SAR is the first full commercial LTE service to be announced by the group.
Having won its 2600MHz spectrum in 2009, in February 2012 China Mobile Hong Kong won the SAR’s 2330MHz-2360MHz TDD band, and announced that it would enhance its LTE network by enabling dual-mode FDD and TDD services. Sean Lee, CEO of the Hong Kong unit, said: ‘We believe that LTE technology is the mainstream in the development of global telecommunications market. With this additional 2300MHz TDD band, it helps to foster the building of an integrated LTE technology network that covers the two key technologies – FDD and TDD – in the 4G network service.’ At the time of the TDD win, China Mobile said that the development of its Hong Kong LTE FDD network was already ‘in good progress’. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that China Mobile Hong Kong’s existing mobile data services are based on 2.5G EDGE but it is leapfrogging the third-generation of mobile evolution to go straight to 4G, as the only one of the SAR’s five cellular network operators lacking a 3G licence.