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Airtel has tied-up with China Mobile for procuring 4G LTE devices, including Mifi, smartphones, data cards, LTE CPEs and USIM, apart from the companies “sharing relevant network and product knowledge and technical learnings”. This will include interoperability testing and testing and validation practices related to network equipment. The two companies will conduct proof of concepts and trials jointly. Both these companies, also founders of Global TD-LTE Initiative (GTI), will cooperate on standards and product development.

This partnership essentially allows China Mobile and Airtel to work together to bring down costs of LTE handsets, because of the scale that both companies can offer. The note from Airtel announcing this partnership validates this, saying that “China Mobile and Airtel will also aim to bring in cost efficiencies by driving synergies in their procurement strategies, among other collaborative efforts included in this MoU agreement.”

According to a report from MobileWorldLive, Deputy Director General of China’s Department of Science and Technology, Li Li said, “TD-LTE terminals last year accounted for 40 per cent of all sales in the country and China is on track to have 400 million LTE connections by the end of this year.”

Previous Developments:

– In 2011, China Mobile, Bharti Airtel, SoftBank Mobile, Vodafone, Clearwire, Aero2 and E-Plus started the GTI as founding partners.

– In 2012, Qualcomm partnered with Airtel and Huawei to develop a multi-mode TD-LTE smartphone for India.

– By late 2013, Airtel acquired 100% stake in Qualcomm’s broadband wireless entity Wireless Business Services Private Limited in India.

-Airtel launched 4G services using the TD-LTE tech in India in 2012.

-As of January 2014, Airtel India had reported 54.4 million mobile Internet connections, up 7.44% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), adding 3.77 million data connections during the quarter for Q3 2014.

-Airtel’s 4G connection base crossed the 100,000 mark in Q3 2014. Since then, Airtel has not released data on the 4G subscriber base.

-They also launched 4G for mobiles in Bangalore in 2014.

Airtel had launched a pilot bundling postpaid mobile connection with broadband services in Hyderabad and is awaiting results of the pilot.

China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with a subscriber base of over 800 million. State-owned, China Mobile offers mobile voice and multimedia services across China. By 2012, it had working networks of 3GPP’s Long Term Evolution and TD-LTE along with 4G.

(Updates: story edited by Nikhil Pahwa for sharpness and clarity)

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