China Mobile to sell 120 mln TD-SCDMA phones this year

China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier with over 700 million subscribers, revealed the sales targets at the Qualcomm China Partner Summit. Half of its expected 120 million TD-SCDMA device sales are projected to be customized by China Mobile, according to the report.

The carrier had close to 88 million 3G customers as of the end of 2012, adding 60.7 million subscribers over the course for the year.

By comparison, China Unicom had 162 million 2G subscribers and 76 million 3G customers as of last December, while China Telecom had 161 million mobile subscribers, including 69 million 3G users.

China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network has been a struggle for it, as it makes use of a proprietary standard that requires extra work for handset makers. While many vendors, including Nokia, HTC and Samsung, have been willing to play along to gain access to the operator’s massive customer base, Apple has yet to produce an iPhone that works on China Mobile’s 3G network.

China Unicom and China Telecom are close in China Mobile’s rear view mirror in terms of 3G subscribers, despite each of them having only a fraction of the company’s overall subscribers.

4G couldn’t come too soon for China Mobile. Engadget noted the company’s Deputy General Manager of Products Wang Hengjiang as saying that it is looking to roll out its TD-LTE service in 2014 and 2015, after performing extensive device tests later this year. Qualcomm is building TD-LTE support into its baseband chips, so China Mobile could see more handset models once its 4G network is live.

Chinese government officials have stated that it will finish preparation of its 4G LTE licenses in 2013. However, widespread customer availability won’t likely be ready until 2014 at the earliest.

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