UPDATE: China Mobile to invest $30.6 billion in 4G roll-out bid
14 March 2013 | Kavit Majithia
China Mobile is expected to boost its capital expenditure to $30.6 billion this year, as it plans to invest heavily in a bid to prepare for the launch of 4G services in the country.
The investment coincides with a recent slide in profits, and 4G is expected to serve the company as a long-term plan, as it is unlikely the service will gain revenues before the end of the year.
It began trialling 4G in 15 cities last year, and will expand this to 100 cities across 2013, planning to reach a population of 500 million. The government has reportedly said it will issue 4G licences in the country by the end of the year.
As part of a new strategy to grow revenues, the company is putting money into handset subsidies to make smartphones affordable for lower income users, but this could mean the company generates less revenue on data.
The government forced China Mobile to operate 3G services on the underdeveloped TD-SCDMA standards, meaning it has been easier for Unicom and China Telecom to use more mature global standards.
To this end, China Mobile has been unable to secure a deal to sell Apple iPhones, in addition to other over-the-top services.
Reports from China suggest that many of the country’s carriers are concerned over the increasing threats posed by applications like Skype, and mobile chat service WeChat, to the overall revenue base.