As of Wednesday, China Mobile has officially opened its 4G service to Hong Kong.
With the release of this new service, China Mobile is making a noble attempt to compete more effectively in the mobile data market, as it has long run into issues related to its 3G standards.
China Mobile is the second mobile provider to bring 4G service to the region, bringing it into greater competition with CSL, owner of the 1010, One2Free, and New World Mobility brands and subsidiary of Telstra, the Australian based telecom and media company.
Hong Kong users have reportedly been able to reach speeds up to 40Mbps, according to the latest news from Sina Tech. Though this falls short of the 100Mbps boasted previously in a public statement, it represents a significant boost for subscribers. In addition to the speed increases, customers will be able to use data service on the Chinese Mainland, something that is not provided by other carriers.
While it remains to be seen when 4G service will be brought to the Chinese Mainland, for now the expansion to 4G by China’s state-owned telecom giant is an indication of its scramble to provide a broader range of services and to perhaps finally attain an iPhone sales contract with Apple.
While the Chinese Mainland remains without 4G service, demand for mobile Internet data has skyrocketed in recent years, especially in the wealthier corners of China’s top-tier cities. Still, bringing 4G service to Hong Kong as an initial experiment is a very tactical move, given the lack of smartphone affordability for most of its consumer base in China.
Though China Mobile boasts the largest user network in the world, with a total of about 655 million subscribers, a majority of its customers still run on the 2G network. It has notably provided its own 3G offerings, yet strangely running on a standard that is not recognized by most mobile manufacturers. This situation remains problematic for the company’s ambitions to expand into the more profitable and data-intensive smartphone market.