China is likely to wait at least another two years before issuing 4G licenses, so that it has time to build more base stations and vendors can develop handsets for the high-speed network, according to reports.
PCWorld on Friday reported that Miao Wei, head of China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said the country currently had 220,000 TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) base stations, but planned to expand the number to 400,000 before distributing 4G licenses.
China is already conducting large-scale 4G trials using LTE TDD (Long-Term Evolution Time-Division Duplex) technology, also known as TD-LTE.
Miao said the country planned to roll out LTE TDD by upgrading existing base stations running on the 3G TD-SCDMA standard, and this process could take about three years.
He added that the Chinese government would also need to encourage handset and chip vendors to support LTE TDD phones, which he cited as a barrier that had been holding back China's 4G development.
According to PCWorld, China is estimated to be close to hitting 1 billion mobile phone users but the country's 3G networks--which went online in 2009--accounted for only 135 million users.
Taiwan advances 4G licenses release
China's announcement comes amid news last week that Taiwan planned to advanced the release of 4G licenses.
News site Taiwan Economic News, in its report last week, said Taiwanese premier Sean Chen approved a minister's proposal to advance the release of 4G licences.
The Taiwanese government would release the licences by July 2013 at the earliest, ahead of the original July 2015 target. This would allow Taiwan to launch 4G operations commercially in 2015 instead of 2017, it added.
The news site said the Taiwanese government was concerned about falling out of sync with the development of 4G services in mainland China.