Chinese news portal C114 writes that rumours are once again circulating that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will soon issue licences for Frequency Division Duplex Long Term Evolution (FDD-LTE), with the latest reports indicating that the concessions will be handed out as early as the Spring Festival tomorrow (Thursday). C114 cites industry sources for the rumour, but added that neither China Telecom nor China Unicom had received official notification by the end of last week. More recently, though, ECNS news noted that Zou Xueyong, the secretary-general of the China Virtual Network Operator Alliance, had yesterday repeated the claim on social media.
Concerns are mounting that further delays to the licensing of FDD-LTE technology will serve to reinforce China Mobile’s dominance in the market. China Mobile uses the home-grown Time Division (TD)-LTE platform for 4G, which was licensed in late 2013, whilst Unicom and Telecom are both keen to use the FDD standard for their 4G services. So far, the MIIT has permitted the duo to trial the technology as part of hybrid TD/FDD-LTE networks in a limited number of cities.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Mobile represented 62.5% of the nation’s cellular subscribers at the end of 2014, with more than 800 million users, 90.1 million of which were 4G customers. At that date Unicom and Telecom were estimated to have signed up a combined total of fewer than eight million LTE subscribers.