China Mobile begins tender for 4G network

China Mobile is now tendering for vendors to build its national 4G TD-LTE network. Covering 31 provinces, the network will require 207,000 base stations to be provided – representing the largest ever tender that the operator has launched.

The terms of the tender state that the operator – which is the world’s largest mobile provider by subscribers – will not accept bids from agents or original equipment manufacturers. Potential bidders that meet the participation criteria must register their interest and attend opening of bids on July 15.

The operators CAPEX is set to rise by a hefty 49% year-on-year, reaching RMB190.2 billion ($30.5 billion). Across 2013, the majority of this spending will focus on 4G.

Yuan Xin, the President of Alcatel-Lucent China, seemed confident that the operator would be drawn to them due to their TD-LTE expertise, claiming that he was optimistic about China Mobile announcing the contract winners in Q3. The vendor has already participated in China Mobile’s original trial, which covered 13 cities.

Meanwhile Ericsson’s Asia-Pacific VP Mats Olsson noted that the Swedish vendor was interested in deploying TD-LTE in China after its initial FDD-LTE deployments.

Several industry analysts have commented that Chinese vendors may well be favoured over their foreign rivals, with Huawei and ZTE likely to handle at least half of the deployment between them. The latter vendor was in fact already contracted to deploy China Mobile’s TD-LTE network in five provinces in October 2012.

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