TD-LTE as opportunity for China Mobile
By Tan Ming Sin
21 June 2012 – At the Mobile Asia Expo, China Mobile chairman Xi Guohua admitted that the operators are facing a few challenges on their hands. For one, the value chain for operators is dropping while other parties such as device manufacturers and content providers are improving. Xi said that “The ranking of operators in the FTSE 500 is dropping, while others are improving.”
XI Guohua speaks at Mobile Asia Expo
(Picture credit: ChinaDaily)
Secondly there is a tremendous increase in demand for mobile networks. Xi stated that last year the mobile data levels increased by 70% and he expects it to increase by 150% this year. The increase may be a sign for increasing income; however, operators will have to find a balance between their investments into the network while maintaining a profitable income level.
Lastly, Xi mentioned that the traditional operators’ purpose wills restraints the company from the ever-improving Internet business. Operators may provide a stable service for users but with the current trends in the Internet business development, the company doubts the Internet services will eventually replace the traditional purpose of operators.
However, despite these challenges, Xi noted that the mobile industry growth also provides the operators with opportunities. A key to China Mobile making full use of these opportunities is to invest in cloud computing and internet services. Xi said “In the next two years more than 3.5 billion industrial product units will be connected via Internet and mobile communication. Users of internet purposes for China Mobile have been increasing at 60 percent.”
While there is less known about the cloud computing, Xi did mention on the company’s “Wireless City” project. On Wednesday, Xi announced China Mobile plan to build 200,000 TD-LTE base stations before the end of 2013. Xi said that “China Mobile has the ability to build as many 4G base stations as it wants in a short period of time." The target of 200,000 TD-LTE base stations is said to be achievable since the company will just be upgrading their current 3G TD-SCDMA into 4G base station. Based on the company previous annual report, they already have 220,000 3G stations.
This plan was supported by executives from Bharti Airtel and ZTE. Bharti Airtel CEO for India and South Asia, Sanjay Kapoor commented that “It’s easy to deploy and it gives the best customer experience.” President of technology vendor ZTE Shi Lirong said “We need a network to support [data] demand and we believe TD-LTE is the best technology to meet these data demands. In the new mobile era, we believe TD-LTE will be the mainstream technology.”
However, in a report by ChinaDaily, Xi did mention that the lack of TD-LTE devices may hinder the project, in particular the iPhones by Apple Inc.. Since Apple has always been very demanding for a standard in their products, it is the biggest obstacle to launch the TD version of the iPhones. However, the two companies have been depending on one another for their business shares in China. Xi said “Apple's business in China will be incomplete if it does not cooperate with China Mobile." Xi added “Maybe you(audience) should ask Qualcomm when the TD version iPhone will come out, instead of turning to us or Apple."