China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) formally issued 3G licenses to the country's three mobile carriers on Wednesday.
As expected China Mobile was awarded a license to operate the world's first TD-SCDMA technology, a largely home-grown standard heavily backed by the government.
China Unicom, which completed its merger with former fixed-line carrier China Netcom earlier this week, was given the go-ahead to build out a W-CDMA network.
China Telecom, the largest fixed-line operator, will upgrade its newly-acquired CDMA network to cdma2000 EV-DO.
The licensing, which had been delayed for several years to allow the development of TD-SCDMA, was brought forward as part of an economic stimulus package.
Analysts expect the first commercial services in the second quarter.
The MIIT issued 23 regulations to cover 3G network and business operation, covering competition and consumer rights, Xinhua reported.
MIIT chief Li Yizhong has predicted 280 billion yuan ($41 billion) in direct network investment over the next two years.
Related news and analysis:
- China gives formal green light to 3G
- Finally, China says it's ready for 3G
- China to issue 3G licenses early in 2009
- China Unicom to spend $1.5 billion on 3G in next two years