China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Friday confirmed that the country will issue third generation (3G) mobile licenses by the end of 2008 or early next year.
Minister Li Yizhong said at a media briefing that China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have prepared well for 3G licensing. "After the proper procedures, we will grant the 3G licenses by the end of this year or early next year as promised."
Li estimates that network investment of the three major Chinese telecom operators will amount to over 200 billion yuan ($29.19 billion), which will stimulate China's economy and help to fend off the financial crisis.
But he also said policy supports in preventing redundancy in telecoms investment and boosting China's TD-SCDMA standard are major concerns before the license could be granted.
China's 3G licensing has been hanging fire for a long time due to the government's support for China's home-grown 3G mobile telecommunications standard TD-SCDMA. It is believed that this standard still needs some more time to compete with rival technologies like CDMA2000 and WCDMA.
Last year China Mobile launched construction in China's major cities of the pre-commercial TD-SCDMA network, which provided 3G service during the Beijing Olympic Games.
Li said China Mobile will be granted TD-SCDMA license, while China Telecom and China Unicom will get licenses based on CDMA2000 and WCDMA standards respectively.
With China's economic growth starting to slow down, the government seems to be keener on starting 3G services, which will unleash huge investments in network construction, handset upgrading and wireless services.