BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China is expected to start licensing telecom operators to offer services on its fourth-generation (4G) mobile phone network within 2013, a senior official has said.
"China has made breakthroughs in R&D of 4G technologies, but is still facing restrictions in commercial use," Miao Wei, minister of industry of information technology, said on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the country's national legislature.
China needs to speed up base station construction and provide more terminal products, which require greater financial and technological input, he said on Tuesday.
"We will promulgate supporting policies at an appropriate time to guide the construction and development of the 4G network," Miao added.
In early February, two cities in east China's Zhejiang Province launched a 4G mobile phone network for commercial use on a trial basis, marking a new age of high-speed mobile Internet in the country.
With a 500-yuan (80 U.S. dollars) deposit, subscribers to China Mobile in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, and Wenzhou, can access the service.
China Mobile, China's largest mobile operator, employs TD-LTE technology, or Time Division Long Term Evolution, one of two international standards, for the 4G network. Its maximum Internet speed is up to 10 times faster than 3G.
4G user should be able to download a 10-megabyte piece of software in two seconds, and a two-gigabyte HD movie in just several minutes.
With the advancement of 4G technology, 4G wireless cards and 4G mobile phones are expected to be ready for commercial use this year.
China Mobile began building a trial 4G network in several Chinese cities, including Hangzhou, in 2011. The city is currently home to over 2,400 4G base stations, covering an area of around 500 square km.
The minister also reiterated that China will further encourage private investment in the telecom industry.