Saturday, January 21, 2006

China plans building 3G telecom network by itself

China will build a stand-alone national mobile network based on TD-SCDMA, a home-grown standard for third-generation (3G) wireless telecoms service, the Xinhua news agency reported.

"The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) ... has set ... TD-SCDMA as national technology standard for the telecommunication industry," Xinhua said on Friday.

"The technology is already mature and ready for manufacturers to move ahead with production. ... A stand-alone network for TD-SCDMA will be built for the home-grown technology."

Xinhua quoted a senior official with the Ministry of Information Industry as saying that TD-SCDMA would have a place in China's 3G market, and would be run by a "competent telecom operator."

Industry watchers were expecting China to build a complete or partial network based on the technology, which was developed in China but has encountered numerous bumps in the road in the process of its commercialization.

The announcement could signal that China is preparing to issue one or more 3G licenses in the near future, paving the way for licensees to build networks based on TD-SCDMA and the world's two most widely accepted standards, WCDMA, popular in Europe, and CDMA 2000, the standard developed by U.S. wireless technology giant Qualcomm Inc.

The field of licensees is expected to include some or all of China's four major telecoms operators, mobile carriers China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd., and fixed-line carriers China Telecom Corp. and China Netcom Group Corp.

Most industry watchers expect China to award its 3G licenses in the first half of this year, a move expected to unleash up to $12 billion in spending as the country sets up the high-speed data networks in time for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Most of the world's major telecoms equipment makers are hoping to get a piece of the action, and have also entered into various partnerships to support TD-SCDMA to curry favor with Beijing.

Major investors in TD-SCDMA include European firms Siemens and Nokia, while others who have formed alliances to support the technology include Motorola, Ericsson, Nortel Networks and Lucent Technologies.


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