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Fast growing Chinese 3G market paves way for 4G

During the third quarter meeting of the Communication Development division of Chinese Ministry of Information, Secretary Zhang Feng announced the planned allotment of spectrum for a future expanded Chinese 4G network.

According to Xinhua News, there were 100 TD-LTE stations operating in Hangzhou in April, with the region planning to build 2000 more by the end of the year—this makes up China's first 4G network.

However, the type of frequency division to be used as well as the spectrum to be allotted in the case of a frequency divided network remained sticking points. A recent announcement has cleared up this uncertainty.  The secretary made clear that a LTE-FDD network with a 1800-1860MHz uplink and 2040-2100MHz downlink would augment the existing network in Hangzhou.

China currently has the second highest number of 3G users in the world at 66.9 million. Along with the release of the iPhone 5, the migration of Chinese users to 4G networks sounds the death knell of 3G technology in the not-so-distant future.

This comes less than two months after Everything Everywhere started offering 4G service to limited areas in the UK.  Sprint LTE service is currently available in 32 US cities and Sprint plans to expand that number to 100 by March of next year.

It's not possible at this time to predict exactly how soon Chinese mobile users will enjoy the same kind of widespread coverage but we are likely at or approaching the tipping point in the shift from 3G to 4G as the dominant mobile network. We can expect to hear more news about it as device manufacturers prepare for the shift.

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