China Mobile will spend 41.7 billion yuan ($6.7 billion U.S.) on developing 4G technology this year. The buildout is in anticipation of the arrival of Apple’s iPhone.
China Mobile revealed on Thursday that it will spend 190.2 billion yuan ($30.1 billion) on its networks this year, with nearly a quarter of that going into its TD-LTE 4G technology, according to Reuters.
The next version of Apple’s iPhone, according to some industry observers, is expected to support China Mobile’s TD-LTE 4G, even though that technology is less widespread in use than FDD-LTE.
Although China Mobile hosts 715 million subscribers, it lags far behind its competition in connectivity speeds. Only 13% of China Mobile subscribers are on 3G, while that figure is 33% for China Unicom and 44% for China Telecom. China Mobile’s 3G speeds are reportedly very slow, with many of its customers relying on the carrier’s widespread Wi-Fi hotspot network for downloading.
Although the carrier hasn’t officially landed the iPhone, more than 10 million of its customers use the popular smartphone on its network, even though the device is not compatible with China Mobile’s 3G standard.
The company announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that its 4G network will consist of 200,000 base stations, covering more than 100 Chinese cities, and more than 500 million potential users.