Officially China has issued 3G licenses to three of the state-owned operators. Which lets us off a long period of suspense during which time China tried to make sure that the home-grown TD-SCDMA system was up and running and able to take a share of the market.
It is China Mobile that has to cope with TD-SCDMA and it is probable it is not a happy camper at the thought. China Mobile can handle the infrastructure well enough. Where the system seems to fall down at the moment is in the handsets themselves. There is no doubt this will be attended to at high speed. Billions of RMB are resting on the outcome.
China Telecom will use the US-developed CDMA2000 and China Unicom will use WCDMA which means those two companies have a head start with a wide range of gear — phones and infrastructure — just waiting to roll.
The plan is that all of these standard will give faster downloads so that thee will be video phone calls — which is not that important — and the ability to use notebooks pretty much anywhere with the right dongle.
Probably the Apple iPhone will now become legitimate. There are probably a million of them in use in China at the moment but they have all be working on 2G. 3G is where it belongs.
This will not be an uncontrolled land grab. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has the regulations ready to control 3G.
The government believes that the move to 3G will stimulate billions of dollars in investment in new 3G networks to handle the data transmission. This is undoubedly true. Some analysts put the figure as high as US$44 billion in the next three years.
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