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China plans home-grown 3G trial

Posted: 28 Sep 2006     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Chinese government  3G  TD-SCDMA  wireless communication  cell phone 

Chinese operators are reportedly ready to offer a small-scale commercial trial of 20,000 users for the country's TD-SCDMA-based 3G network. The technology has been in the testing phase for about three years.

The first group of so-called "friendly users" will be drawn from government departments, telecom operators, development partners and industry insiders in 12 major cities. The new trial will further test the standard's performance in connecting and roaming between different GSM and CDMA networks.

TD-SCDMA is China's domestic 3G standard that has long been considered the underdog standard because of the smaller amount of R&D funds invested in it and its relative immaturity compared with wideband-CDMA and CDMA2000 1X.

Once 3G licences are issued, which is expected during the next six months, the number of 3G users will reach 6.2 million a year, and 73.5 million in three years, according to the Telecom Academy, a government-run research institute. Other analysts have estimated that TD-SCDMA will capture about 25 per cent of the market, just ahead of CDMA.

TD-SCDMA networks are in at least the third round of major testing. Networks have been set up in Qingdao, Shandong Province, Baoding, in Hebei Province, and Xiamen, in Fujian Province. The tests, which are supposed to wrap up by the end of September, have shown that voice connections have reached 95 per cent reliability, good enough for commercialisation, according to Bing Cao, general manager of Datang Telecom, one of the main domestic backers of TD-SCDMA.

As commercialisation nears, Chinese officials are tightening the control of any information about TD-SCDMA to "help build a pro-TD industry atmosphere," according to local media. The TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance declined to comment on the progress of network testing or the commercial trial.

Although Hong Kong and, recently, neighbouring Macau are already using 3G, the Chinese government has delayed nationwide 3G licences until TD-SCDMA is ready to compete against its more mature rivals. Government-controlled operators have been testing the standard for at least three years, and are still having problems with reliable connections between terminals and the networks, especially at data rates above 128kbps.

- Cai Yan
  EE Times

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