Telecom equipment maker Alcatel Lucent said some telecom carriers in China and India could put out bids for building of 4G trial networks as early as year-end, as they rush to upgrade existing networks or get into the wireless business. China Mobile, the world's largest carrier by subscribers, has been letting some of the world's top equipment sellers, including the French-US firm, show off their 4G capabilities at the Shanghai Expo that began in May and runs through the end of October.

“The calendar is we hope by year-end the trial networks will be announced, and partners selected and trials will start,” Rajeev Singh-Morales, Asia Pacific president of Alcatel Lucent, told Reuters in an interview at the World Economic Forum on Monday. “It's fair to say they've been in discussions with us. Everyone knows this trial is coming,” he said.

At least two carriers in India, which only recently awarded licenses for 3G, also known as LTE, were also moving aggressively in the 4G space, he added. One of those, Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, is eager to get into the industry to compete with established players, including Reliance Communications, headed by his brother, Anil. “Initially, (4G) trials could start in India much faster, possibly by year end,” Singh-Morales said. He added a number of carriers lookin at 4G are seriously considering TD-LTE, one of several variants of 4G being developed and promoted by China Mobile.

In particular, he said, companies that operate networks based on a high-speed wireless technology called WiMax would be most suitable for the Chinese homegrown standard, which China is actively promoting as it tries to gain a place alongside more widely accepted standards developed in the United States and Europe.

“(The Indian carriers) are certainly actively considering TD-LTE,” he said. “Anyone that has deployed WiMax and wants to go to LTE would consider that … a number of customers in Japan, Indonesia and even the US.”

Separately, Singh-Morales said India was currently in public consultation with telecoms equipment makers over draft new rules designed to ease Delhi's concerns over network security. The equipment makers worry that the rules as first introduced would be difficult for them to implement, and are hoping to reach a middle ground with the government.

“There's a two-month consultation period, and then they will issue revised regulations,” he said. “I'm confident we'll find a reasonable compromise.”

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