updated 01:10 pm EDT, Sun March 11, 2012
China may delay full LTE rollouts for years
Hopes for a quick LTE deployment in China were possibly quashed after Ministroy of Industry and Information Technology leader Miao Wei said in an interview that licenses would have to wait. He thought it probable that the government would wait two to three years before it gave licenses for local TDD-based (Time Division Duplex) LTE networks. In the discussion, run on state TV and caught by PCWorld, he explained that the gap would be a deliberate attempt to have coverage and device plans catch up with demand.
Without the devices, commercial trials weren't going as quickly as the government wanted, Miao said.
The expansion won't necessarily hurt deployment of LTE's TDD variant in other countries. Some American and Canadian networks either do or will use TDD rather than the more common FDD (Frequency Division Duplex).
If sustained, however, it may drop hopes for having all three major Chinese carriers officially supporting the iPhone. China Mobile, the only major holdout, has said it was hoping for LTE before jumping in. Short of special exceptions, Apple would have to wait the extra two to three years to get an LTE phone on the network. Getting support before an LTE license would require TD-SCDMA 3G support and possibly the sort of one-carrier version that Apple has tried to avoid whenever possible.