China plans to issue 4G licences this year: Minister
Beijing: China, which has about 1.11 billion mobile phone users, will start licencing telecom operators to offer services on fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone network this year, a Minister said on Wednesday.
"China has made breakthroughs in R&D of 4G technologies, but is still facing restrictions in commercial use," Miao Wei, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the country's national legislature.
China's mobile users numbers last year went up to 1.11 billion, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The mobile phone users represent 80 per cent of all phones users in the country.
There is still scope for development as China's population stood at 1.354 billion at the end of 2012.
Miao said China needs to speed up base station construction and provide more terminal products, which require greater financial and technological input for 4G.
"We will promulgate supporting policies at an appropriate time to guide the construction and development of the 4G network," Miao added.
In early February, two cities in east China's Zhejiang Province launched a 4G mobile phone network for commercial use on a trial basis, marking a new age of high-speed mobile Internet in the country.
With a 500-yuan (approx USD 80) deposit, subscribers of China Mobile in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, and Wenzhou, can access the service.
China Mobile, China's largest mobile operator, employs TD-LTE technology, or Time Division Long Term Evolution, one of two international standards, for the 4G network. Its maximum Internet speed is up to 10 times faster than 3G.
A 4G user should be able to download a 10-megabyte piece of software in two seconds, and a two-gigabyte HD movie in just several minutes.
With the advancement of 4G technology, 4G wireless cards and 4G mobile phones are expected to be ready for commercial use this year, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
State-run China Mobile, the country's biggest moblie phone operator began building a trial 4G network in several Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, in 2011.
The city is currently home to over 2,400 4G base stations, covering an area of around 500 square km.
The Minister also said China will further encourage private investment in the telecom industry.