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The Chinese government last month ruled out any early issuance of 3G licenses - yet the domestic industry is working overtime to develop the nationally-preferred 3G standard, TD-SCDMA.
MII vice-minister Lou Qinjian told a press conference last month that the ministry had no timetable for the issue of 3G licenses. He said the standard lacked a viable business model and that more research was needed.
But official skepticism has not dimmed industry enthusiasm to develop both TD-SCDMA networks and technologies.
China Mobile Communications Corp. - the parent of the listed Hong Kong company - is close to completing the network rollout in eight cities. It was due to launch the world's first TD-SCDMA service in late October but has delayed to an unspecified date because of difficulties in site acquisition.
Officially termed 'trial networks,' they are concentrated in cities that will stage next year's Olympics.
China Mobile is due to issue a handset tender in late November, insisting on dual-mode GSM/GPRS-TD-SCDMA as well as video telephony capability.
Handset-makers are already making devices that support GSM and TD-SCDMA. Despite the emphasis on developing a local technology to avoid paying patent fees to foreigners, the operator has also stipulated that future handsets have HSDPA to ensure the ability to deliver mobile TV during next year's Olympics.
At the same time, officials have signaled that China will aggressively take part in the 4G standardization process.
Datang Telecom, the company that is vested with the Chinese government's TD-SCDMA IPR, says it has made a 'core technology breakthrough' in 4G. Datang Telecom is leading the national 4G project with government research body CATR and other vendors such as Huawei and ZTE.
Surprisingly, the company also plans to integrate the technology with future versions of Wimax. The Chinese delegation opposed the ITU's approval of Wimax as a member of the 3G family last month because of its occupation of key TD frequencies.
But Datang vice-president Chen Shanzhi said the current versions of Wimax 802.16d and 16e were unable to support seamless handover, but would begin trials of the future Wimax standard 802.16m in early 2009.
According to an IEEE working document, 802.16m will 'provide an advanced air interface to meet the requirements of next-generation mobile networks' and is intended for incorporation into ITU's next-gen mobile.