updated 09:15 am EDT, Fri April 20, 2012
China Mobile deploys early LTE
China Mobile took its first tentative steps into LTE on Friday with a launch plan for service in Hong Kong. The 100Mbps service will be active as of April 25. At least two 4G phones will be available the same day as the service, Bloomberg was told, with a total of 10 reaching the market by the end of 2012.
The choice of carrier will let those who regularly visit mainland China keep one data plan to serve both areas, although it's not immediately clear whether the Hong Kong access is the same FDD-LTE as CSL or if it's the TD-LTE that China Mobile plans to use for its main China deployment. The former is more likely given China Mobile already owning relevant 2.6GHz spectrum from 2009.
Adding LTE could have a significant effect on device adoption, including future iPads and iPhones. The current iPad wouldn't work on Hong Kong frequencies as it's limited to North American 700MHz and 2.1GHz bands, but it would give Apple as well as Android supporters an established base to use once LTE hardware could support more than two frequencies.
China Mobile is planning a wide mainland rollout of its TD-LTE network, although it will have to wait until it gets a government network license that could come as late as 2014 or 2015. Apple has been eager to get adoption and has been cooperating with China Mobile on getting support when ready.