China Mobile to Launch 4G LTE in Hong Kong Next Week

Tech in Asia

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China Mobile Hong Kong - CMHK 4G LTE

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL; HKG:0941) has announced that it’ll launch its 4G mobile data service over the border in Hong Kong starting next week. The 100 MBps next-generation LTE will start on April 25th, and will likely come with deals on new 4G smartphones - though China Mobile has not yet named any devices.

While China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile telco in terms of users - and the market leader in mainland China - it is a relative newcomer to the SAR of Hong Kong, where it’s behind the four other carriers. They are, in descending order of subscribers, Hutchinson’s 3, Telstra’s CSL, PCCW, and SmarTone-Vodafone.

The gradual move to 4G will be an opportunity to seize customers from rivals, presuming that Hong Kongers feel the need for pricier 4G monthly data packages, and if the available phones are attractive enough.

China Mobile’s press release from its HK subsidiary explains that the full rollout of LTE will take some time:

By the end of 2012, CMHK plans to scale up its 4G LTE coverage to a level on par with its current network, while indoor coverage will be up to 80 percent.

Director and CEO at China Mobile Hong Kong, Sean Lee, added:

We are extremely optimistic about the development of 4G LTE technology. More and more operators are turning their eyes to 4G LTE. Mobile device makers indicate that up to 20 4G smartphone and tablet products will be launched in 2012, which is a key reason to believe that 4G will be picking up faster than 3G.

He also told Bloomberg that a “total of 10 4G phones will become available for customers this year,” but without naming any brands, or specifying if they might be iOS, Android, or Windows Phone.

In addition to next week’s launch, China Mobile has said it will make available data roaming services for both 3G and 4G for customers when they travel to mainland China. It’ll be available only with an additional monthly fee, and seems aimed at businesspeople who work a lot in the mainland.

Just yesterday we looked at a report which found that only 10 mobile telcos across Asia had fully rolled out 4G services. We can now bump that number up to 11. PCCW (HKG:0008.HK - News) will do likewise in Hong Kong later this year.

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