China Mobile’s efforts to develop local 4G wireless infrastructure in advance of its two domestic rivals are likely to pay off, with the operator expected to account for the majority of the country’s subscribers through 2017, according to an IHS iSuppli China Research Topical Report from information and analytics provider IHS.
The number of China Mobile 4G subscribers is forecast to reach 228.8 million in 2017, representing 52 percent of China’s 439.9 million total 4G users. In comparison, 4G users from China Unicom and China Telecom—the country’s two other major telecommunications operators—will number 114.4 million and 96.8 million, respectively.
“While 4G will become the dominant wireless standard this year in areas like North America and Europe, the next-generation wireless standard is only starting to make its way in China, with China Mobile spearheading the effort,” said Hailin Zhao, analyst for China research at IHS. “The 4G technology will make its first widespread deployment this year, with a total of 1.0 million subscribers—all claimed by China Mobile. With its aggressive moves to establish 4G trials and deploy base stations, China Mobile has set the stage for dominance of the 4G market over the next four years.”
China Mobile Enjoys Huge Lead
The head start enjoyed by China Mobile extends to a comfortable margin next year as it counts 14.0 million 4G subscribers, compared to 4.3 million for China Unicom and 3.2 million for China Telecom. By 2015, China Mobile will have a near insurmountable lead with 55.1 million 4G subscribers—34.2 million more than China Unicom, its closest competitor.
China’s 4G technology is known as TD-LTE, or Time-Division Long Term Evolution—a homegrown variant of the worldwide LTE standard. The country deploys its own wireless norm, ostensibly to lessen dependence on the West.