Chinese telcos in tower sharing talks

01 May 2014 | Sophie Donoghue


China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom are in talks to form a joint network-sharing venture.

The companies reportedly hope to speed up the process of LTE roll-out, reduce the cost of network construction and share the operating cost through a tower-sharing deal.

The details of the discussions have not been disclosed, but market analysts are speculating that the telcos may decide to centralise their infrastructure into a new company which will be responsible for managing these assets.

The new company will build, own and maintain all new base stations.

Government has been advocating a policy of network sharing, with the ministry of industry and IT announcing on its website that the proposed venture would "promote environmental protection, cut costs and benefit users".

Sources have reported that the deal may extend to the companies’ access networks, but a RAN sharing agreement may face difficulties due to differences in the companies’ aims for LTE.

China awarded TD-LTE standard licences to China Mobile, China Unicom Hong Kong and China Telecom in December last year.

China Unicom and China Telecom announced that they hope to apply for globally more commonly used FDD-LTE licences, while China Mobile owns a 4G network that is heavily based on TD-LTE.