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Monday, January 23, 2006

China's TD-SCDMA ready for commercial debut

Jason Dean at the Wall Street Journal today reported that the Chinese government approved China’s local cellular technology, TD-SCDMA, which is one of the three international 3G standards (the other two being CDMA2000 and WCDMA). China is now one step closer to making 3G licenses available to major operators.

Friday's statement, published on the Ministry of Information Industry's Web site, makes TD-SCDMA the first of the 3G standards to be formally approved in China, Wang Lijian, the ministry's spokesman, said in a telephone interview. The other two are still being reviewed, he said.

In 2002, I predicted that 3G would not become a reality until the 2005-2006 timeframe. One of the major reasons I saw at the time was the immaturity of the TD-SCDMA standard. During the past several years, several major international vendors, including Siemens and Alcatel, have thrown their support and weight behind the Chinese standard. In the meantime, local companies such as Huawei also made significant investments in developing TD-SCDMA products. It is clear that even if the government does not bundle 3G licenses with the technology, it will at least wait for the technology mature before allowing carriers to launch services. Otherwise, CDMA2000 and WCDMA will bypass TD-SCDMA, the most promising technology standard developed by Chinese entities.

It is widely predicted that TD-SCDMA technology will be adopted by China Telecom, the dominant landline carrier. China Unicom and China Mobile are more likely to go with CDMA2000 and WCDMA. China’s mobile subscriber number is expected to pass 400 million in early 2006.


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