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March 4, 2014

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Unicom last to launch 4G services on March 18

China Unicom will launch 4G services on March 18, becoming the last of the three Chinese telcos to do so, the country’s No. 2 mobile carrier said yesterday.

Initially debuting in 25 cities nationwide on March 18, China Unicom’s 4G services are set to cover 100 cites by the end of this year. Its 4G services will initially adopt the China-developed TD-LTE (time division-long term evolution) technology, the same as that used by China Mobile.

China Unicom also plans to launch the FDD-LTE (frequency-division duplexing) after the government issues licenses for that standard. This will then allow the telco to compete more effectively with China Mobile.

Lu Yimin, China Unicom’s general manager, said the telco’s 4G related investment will hit 10 billion yuan this year.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued 4G TD-LTE licenses to the three Chinese telcos in December. China Mobile and China Telecom have already launched TD-LTE services.

Unlike TD-LTE, FDD-LTE is more commercially mature in many countries, including the US, South Korea and Britain, for several years.

In December, China said it would release FDD-LTE licenses “soon” but no further details were given by the government.


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