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China urged to promote wider 3G competition
2004-11-11 00:19:23 XinhuaEnglish
BEIJING, Nov. 11(Xinhuanet)-- A telecommunications policy think-tank is proposing the mainland build three separate third-generation(3G) mobile networks, each based on a different technological platform, to promote competition, China Radio International reported Thursday. The China Academy of Telecommunications Research has also advised the government that it can afford to wait for the country's home-grown 3G technology- TD-SCDMA- to develop further before it issues 3G licences.

"There is plenty of time to mull over 3G questions and formulate policy," said Chen Jinqiao, the think-tank's director of the Institute of Telecommunication Policy.

The research body operates under the Ministry of Information Industry, which regulates the telecommunications sector.

Mr Chen said the development of TD-SCDMA would first require construction of a network large enough to generate the investment capital needed.

"From our experience in 2G, we've seen that the competition among two nationwide GSM networks was ineffective," he said.

Mr Chen believed the best way to promote competition was to allow all three major 3G technologies to compete with each other on a nationwide scale.

"It was not until China Unicom built a nationwide CDMA network that the country's mobile service competition landscape improved. We should avoid the same mistake when it comes to 3G," he said.

His comments seemed to rule out the suggestion of some carriers that the relatively immature TD-SCDMA technology could supplement the core WCDMA or CDMA2000 networks on a regional basis.

Sources close to the ministry told the South China Morning Post that full-scale field trials on all three 3G technologies had been completed. Six operators and 12 vendors in different cities participated, submitting reports and suggestions to the ministry's 3G advisory group last month.

But officials of the research body publicly denied yesterday that the TD-SCDMA standard had been fully evaluated.

"It's only an experiment," an official told Associated Press in Beijing."We can't make any conclusions right now."

Nonetheless, sources told the Post that the test results showed poor network reliability, patchy 2G-3G interoperability and other problems. Of the three platforms, WCDMA appeared to be the most mature, followed by CDMA2000.

Mr Chen admitted performance of certain parts of the mainland technology needed improvement."The problem with TD-SCDMA is that vendor participation remains limited. I believe more foreign vendors with strong[research and development] capability will join in."

Alcatel Shanghai Bellwas has reportedly agreed to invest 150 million yuan in Datang Mobile- a TD-SCDMA advocate- to jointly develop handsets for the technology.

(CRIENGLISH.com/scmp.com)

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