Light Reading

China Unicom Calls 4G Tender

Robert Clark
News Analysis
Robert Clark
Repost This

The last piece of China's 4G LTE rollout has fallen into place, with China Unicom finally calling a tender.

The operator has reportedly issued a tender for 50,000 LTE base stations -- its first large-scale 4G deployment. This sets the stage for head-to-head 4G services competition by the middle of 2014.

However, China Unicom Ltd.'s first foray into 4G is on a much smaller scale than initial rollouts by China Mobile Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. Ltd. This underlines its intention to sweat its 3G assets.

The three Chinese operators have had an unusually short 3G window. Licences were not issued until January 2009, because the market was forced to wait for the market readiness of TD-SCDMA, the homegrown Chinese version of the 3G standard that was adopted by China Mobile.

Because of the limitations of TD-SCDMA, China Mobile has been first out of the blocks for 4G. It deployed a trial network in 2012 in a dozen cities. In mid-2013, it chose suppliers for a major rollout of across 100 cities.

China Mobile has earmarked 41 billion yuan renminbi ($6.9 billion) for 4G this financial year. Analysts have said that figure could rise to $10 billion next year.

At its recent global partners conference, China Mobile said it expected to have deployed 500,000 base stations in 340 cities by the end of 2014, creating what would be far and away the world's largest 4G network.

When the Ministry for Industry and IT (MIIT) awarded LTE-TDD licences to each of the three operators on Dec. 6, China Mobile was ready to go to market. It is now offering service in 16 cities. (See: China Issues 4G TDD Licences.) But by issuing TDD-only licences, the MIIT forced China Telecom and China Unicom to revise their plans to concentrate on the mainstream FDD version of 4G.

China Telecom's LTE rollout, announced in October, was for 60,000 base stations, of which 70% are said to be FDD and 30% TDD. It has said it plans to use TDD as a complement to the FDD equipment solely in urban areas. (See: Alcatel-Lucent Makes 4G Gains in China.)

China Unicom plans an even lower proportion of TDD -- just 20%. The tender is likely to be completed in the first quarter, so commercial service is unlikely to start before June.

Whereas the 4G rollouts will dominate the capex programs of China Mobile and China Telecom next year, China Unicom is betting on 3.5G and its greater range of devices against the higher speeds of LTE. It is expected to spend just CNY10 billion ($1.65 billion) on 4G in 2014, with the bulk of its investment going toward W-CDMA/HSDPA upgrades.

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
User Rank: Blogger
12/26/2013 | 7:36:35 AM
May be a smaller tender, but...
The competition to be the lead RAN and EPC suppliers will still be intense, especially among the main Western vendors looking to pick up meaningful shares after Huawei and ZTE get their deals.

Deals in China could make a big differenvce to ALU, ERIC and NSN in 2014.
Flash Poll
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyes Big Technology Shifts

4|16|14   |   03:02   |   (0) comments

US cable engineers are facing a lot of heavy lifting in the coming years, notes Light Reading Cable/Video Practice Leader Alan Breznick.
LRTV Custom TV
Maximizing Customer Experience & Assuring Service Delivery in an IP World

4|15|14   |   4:57   |   (0) comments

Steven Shalita, VP of Marketing, NetScout Systems, Inc., discusses the challenges cable/MSO operators face in assuring the delivery of new IP-based services. Key points include the value of proactively managing performance, and using rich analytics and operational intelligence to better understand service and usage trends, make smarter business decisions and ...
LRTV Documentaries
Bye-Bye DVD: Consumers Embrace Digital Video

4|10|14   |   04:17   |   (6) comments

Veteran video analyst Colin Dixon, founder and principal analyst of nScreenMedia, says research shows 56% are using digital video already.
LRTV Documentaries
Video: TW Cable Puts Multicast Gateways to the Test

4|8|14   |   04:13   |   (1) comment

Tom Gonder, a chief architect at Time Warner Cable, explains how its trial of multicast gateways is impacting IP-based video plans.
LRTV Custom TV
Managing & Monetizing Big Data in Operator Environments

4|7|14   |     |   (1) comment

At Mobile World Congress, Gigamon's Director of Service Provider Solutions, Andy Huckridge, and Heavy Reading Analyst Sarah Wallace discuss the 'big data' issues facing carriers and operators today.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Data Center Energy – Build Your Data Center in a Modular Way

4|7|14   |   2:13   |   (0) comments

Dr. Fang Liangzhou, VP Network Energy Product Line, shared his thoughts about the challenges for data centers during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Agile Network Solution – An Overview of Huawei's Agile Network Solution

4|7|14   |   2:31   |   (0) comments

Ajay Gupta, Director of Product Marketing, Networking Product Line, gives an overview of the Agile Network Solutions during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s eLTE Voice Trunking, Video and Data Applied for Railways

4|7|14   |   1:38   |   (0) comments

Gottfried Winter is the Sales Director at Funkwerk, a German specialist in GSM-r terminals and a long-time partner of Huawei. At CeBIT 2014, Winter talks to Light Reading about this partnership and the integration of enhanced voice trunking, video and data functions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
LeaseWeb Speaks Highly of Huawei's Datacenter Products

4|7|14   |   1:37   |   (0) comments

Rene Olde Olthof, Operations Director LeaseWeb, talks about the next data center transformation during CeBIT 2014.
LRTV Documentaries
Comcast: Reshaping the Cable Network Architecture

4|3|14   |   07:11   |   (8) comments

Shamim Akhtar, Comcast's architect and senior director of network strategy, explains why the cable company is moving to a more distributed network architecture.
LRTV Custom TV
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at Mobile World Congress

4|1|14   |   3:41   |   (0) comments

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger speaks to Heavy Reading about the value of virtualization spanning from the data center to service provider networks to mobile devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Analysts' Impressions of Huawei SoftCOM at ONS 2014

4|1|14   |   1:11   |   (0) comments

After visiting the Huawei booth at ONS, Lee Doyle of Doyle Research gives his appraisal of Huawei's SoftCOM solution.
Hot Topics
Businesses Face 'Fiber Gap': Report
Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, 4/9/2014
BlackBerry's Chen: We're Not Dumping Devices
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 4/10/2014
AT&T's Going to Carolina With 1 Gig
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 4/10/2014
Cisco, Juniper Treating Gear Against Potential Heartbleed
Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, 4/11/2014
Cisco & VMware Are Apple & Google of SDN
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 4/14/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed