Industry officials said President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had voiced strong support for the largely home-grown wireless communications technology TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access) over international standards W-CDMA and CDMA2000, the South China Morning Post reported. Their backing could allow for the long-delayed issuance of 3G licenses as early as the first quarter of 2006.
In addition to TD-SCDMA, Beijing is also expected to issue licenses for WCDMA and CDMA2000, the intellectual property rights of which are mainly held by foreign technology giants such as Qualcomm, Nokia and Ericsson. However, analysts said a head start for domestic technology would give the government a strong bargaining position to force down royalty payments on the international standards.
A strong domestic provider is also on China's wish list to roll out home-grown 3G networks. To that end, China Telecom, the leading fixed-line operator, appears to be in the box seat for early licenses. It was claimed last month the company has already started large-scale trial networks with two other companies in Shanghai using the TD-SCDMA standard, which is owned by Chinese telecommunications company Datang Mobile Communications Equipment. According to officials from the Ministry of Information Industry, the trial operation, which has been extended from 16 to 30 base stations, was stable and the technology ready for commercial deployment.
Tang Ruan, COO of Datang, said the company had upgraded the performance of its TD-SCDMA chips, and could put them into large-scale operation in the first quarter of 2006. Testing of TD-SCDMA handsets is also underway.
For some, the roll-out cannot come quickly enough. With about five million new mobile phone subscribers every month, Vice Minister of Information Industry Xi Guohua warned that, unless 3G licenses were issued soon, there would be a huge waste for consumers and telecom operators as the new technology would date existing phones and equipment.
High-tech trade surge
China's import and export of high-tech products grew 27.2% year-on-year to hit US$415.96 billion in 2005, accounting for 29.2% of China's total foreign trade, Ministry of Commerce figures showed. Exports were up US$52.71 billion from 2004 to US$218.3 billion, with computer exports showing an 11-month increase of 26.2% while telecom and electronic product exports rose 38% and 29.2% respectively over the same period. Eleven month computer imports were up 20.2% with telecom imports rising 16.1% and electronic products 29.2%. Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced that China overtook the US in 2004 as the world's largest exporter of a broad category of electronic goods including computers, mobile phone handsets and digital cameras.
Online TV targeted
Siemens will launch a campaign to tap into China's online digital television business IPTV. The company announced that Shanghai Telecom Co and Shanghai Media Group would use its set-top box for their planned IPTV service. Shanghai Telecom has been testing IPTV since August, and it plans to roll out the service to 5,000 homes in Shanghai's Pudong district by the end of February. Siemens estimates that China's IPTV-subscriber count will grow from 150,000 to between 13 and 16 million by 2009, making up one quarter of the global US$1 billion IPTV market.
The number of mobile phone subscribers in China rose 53.3 million to a record 388 million in the first 11 months of 2005, according to Ministry of Information Industry figures. Short message volume climbed 40.1% year-on-year with more than 274.3 billion text messages sent in the first 11 months of 2005. The number of fixed-line subscribers rose by more than 39 million to 350 million in the same period, while total post and telecommunications revenue climbed 11.2% to US$72 billion, the ministry said.
Scientists build 3G chip
Researcher at Nanjing's Southeast University and Dongda Communication have developed China's first high-speed chip for third-generation mobile phones using wideband code division multiple access, or WCDMA technology. The chip, called Noah3000, is reported to be three times faster than the rival CDMA2000 technology.
Proprietary exports boost
Exports of high-tech products with proprietary brands were estimated to be worth more than US$20 billion in 2005, according to Ministry of Commerce figures. The export volume of China's 25 high-tech product export bases was about US$80 billion, with 300 enterprises exceeding US$100 million in export volume. Software and medical product exports reached US$3.5 billion and US$16 billion respectively following government efforts to boost sales in these areas last year.
DCM to invest in China tech
Silicon Valley-based early-stage venture capital firm Doll Capital Management announced it would invest US$500 million in China over the next decade. DCM currently manages US$1.1 billion of funds, about 20% of which is invested in China. Co-founder and managing general partner David Chao said this investment figure would rise as high as 35% over the coming years. "China is an agent of change for [global] technological innovation," he said. The venture capital firm plans to target Chinese companies involved in wireless services, outsourcing, semiconductors and digital media.