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China Wireless 3G Market

China is the largest cellular market with about 200 million mobile subscribers and a population of 1300 million.

China has GSM/GPRS and CDMA networks and for 3G services China is planning a 3G standard called TD-SCDMA. TD-SCDMA was approved by the ITU in 1999 and the technology is being developed by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology and Siemens. China might also choose to adopt a second 3G technology, possibly UMTS.

According to news reports in June 2002, China will not issue 3G mobile licenses until at least 2004 or 2005 because the market and network standards are still immature. The government will still be testing the existing three 3G standards by the end of 2003 to ensure that the network operations are stable when it is launched and will make a final decision on network standards next year. 3G mobile network would start replacing existing mobile communication, such as 2G or CDMA, gradually in 2006, when demand for mobile communications grew. In September 2001, the Ministry of Information Industry invited at least six mobile network suppliers to test 3G technology in the mainland. The 15-month trial was aimed at resolving how different standards worked in a 3G environment. Earlier, China Mobile Communications said it planned to launch its 3G mobile service based on WCDMA technology, while rival China United Telecommunications (China Unicom) said it would use CDMA2000 as the standard for its 3G mobile service. Ministry of Information Industry was still studying whether to issue a third licence for either a 2G or 2.5G network to a newcomer to compete with the two dominant players, China Mobile and China Unicom.

According to August 2002 news report in Silicon Strategies "Datang and Siemens have continued with [TD-SCDMA] trials, in places like Beijing and Shanghai, and other ventures have started to pop up to handle chip design for handsets. A Texas Instruments led consortium called Commit is composed of Taiwanese, Korean and Chinese firms that will produce baseband and RF processors for the TD-SCDMA standard, and Dutch concern Rtx Telecom is working with Siemens to do the same.

So far, the country's major carriers, China Mobile, China Telecommunications Group Corp., China Netcom Corp. Ltd. and China Unicom have not committed to using TD-SCDMA technology for data delivery. Indeed, Unicom has invested in a CDMA2000 network that it will likely upgrade to CDMA2000 1x to handle data streams. China Mobile is already experimenting with GPRS.

The field trials for TD-SCDMA are being closely watched by China's Ministry of Information Industry, which will eventually issue about five 3G licenses, with three of them widely expected to go to China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom."

According to October 2002 news reports "The Chinese government has announced its support for the domestically developed 3G standard TD-SCDMA. The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) and the country’s largest mobile operators, China Mobile and China Unicom, have given their joint backing to the standard. There has been some speculation, however, that the lack of high-ranking officials from either mobile operator at the announcement means that the telcos are not wholly in support of the plan to push TD-SCDMA."


  • What's Up With Chinese 3G? by Unstrung, (03/01/03)
  • China favors its own 3G standard in spectrum allocation by Silicon Strategies, (01/11/02)
  • Motorola to invest in Chinese TD-SCDMA 3G standard by 3G Newsroom, (10/01/03)
  • Beijing dampens 3G hopes by South China Morning Post via Wireless Week, (14/01/03)
  • Chinese propose three options for the adoption of 3G by 3G Newsroom, (23/01/03)
  • Call to issue 3-generation licences by early next year by China Daily, (11/03/03)
  • China Mobile Unlikely To Choose TD-SCDMA For 3G Standard by Yahoo, (26/03/03)
  • China Telecom keeps them guessing on 3G by China Daily, (01/04/03)
  • Development of China's Wireless Telecommunications by The Feature, (25/04/03)
  • Telecom company to call for 3G licence by China Daily, (28/06/03)
  • Siemens expects to win 3G game by China Daily, (22/07/03)
  • W-CDMA: China's No. 1 Son? by Unstrung, (21/08/03)
  • China's 3G standard not ready for commercial use until early 2005 by, (20/02/04)
  • China to kick off 3G field tests again by People Daily, (01/03/04)
  • Gov't OKs program on 3G standards by News Guangdong, (18/03/04)
  • China makes its first 3G mobile phone by People's Daily, (31/03/04)

    Mobile network operators in China are:

    1 China Mobile Communication Corp. (China Mobile)
    2 China United Communications Corp. Ltd. (China Unicom)

    Four 3G (UMTS) license holders in Hong Kong are:

    1 Hutchison 3G
    2 Sunday 3G
    3 Smartone 3G
    4 Hong Kong CSL

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