China 3G subscribers double to reach 176 million
China’s 3G subscriber base has doubled between Q2 2011 and Q2 2012, growing from 81 million to 176 million. China is already the world’s largest mobile market with over one billion wireless subscribers, and now has surpassed the United States in Q1 2012 to become the world’s largest 3G market as well.
China Mobile is likely to gain a leg-up on its domestic competitors with the launch of commercial 4G TD-LTE services expected in the second half of 2012. The company is currently conducting trials in the ten cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Qingdao, Tianjin and Shenyang, and announced last week that further trials will be added in Ningbo, Chengdu, and Fuzhou.
The operator plans to establish 20,000 4G-enabled base stations throughout the country by the end of this year, rising to 200,000 by the end of 2013. The expansion of urban trials is largely dependent on the development of TD-LTE devices. NSN and Huawei both currently have compatible handsets, while ZTE is expected to launch one by the end of this year. TD-LTE modems are already widely available.