China Telecom aims to upgrade to LTE FDD, but authorities will decide

China Telecom has conducted 4G trials for the past year using LTE FDD technology

As China continues trials of its 4G networks using the government-backed LTE TDD technology, mobile operator China Telecom is aiming to go another route and deploy LTE FDD technology for its upcoming 4G networks.

The Chinese government has yet to issue 4G licenses to operators. But China Telecom, with 152 million mobile subscribers, wants to upgrade its existing 3G networks to LTE FDD technology, said Xu Fei a spokesman for China Telecom on Friday.

For the past year, the company has been running trials using an LTE FDD (Frequency-Division Duplex) network in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, Xu added.

LTE FDD is a variant of 4G LTE technology currently dominant in use among mobile operators across the world.

China, however, is pushing the development of LTE TDD (Time-Division Duplex), a variant which is based on the country's own 3G technology called TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access).

LTE TDD trials are already under way in the country and will be expanded to 100 cities in China next year. Rival operator China Mobile stands to benefit the most. The company currently uses the TD-SCDMA standard in its 3G networks, and is expected to upgrade them to 4G using LTE TDD technology.

China Telecom, on the other hand, uses CDMA2000 3G networks, a technology widely used outside the country. But no operators have yet to upgrade from a 3G CDMA network to 4G using solely LTE TDD, Xu said.

"The FDD-LTE technology is more mature," he said. "So we think this is the better road for us to take."

China Telecom, however, won't be the one to decide that. The Chinese government has the final say when it issues the 4G licenses, Xu said.

In September, a Chinese official signaled the government could issue those licenses near the end of next year.

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