Chinese telecom regulators have ordered China Telecom and China Unicom to close their wireless telephone service Xiaolingtong in the next three years to clear the way for the development of the country's home-grown 3G standard TD-SCDMA.
China Telecom and China Unicom confirmed that they were told to shut down the low-cost wireless telephone service Xiaolingtong, technically known as the personal access system (PAS), by the end of 2011.
The Chinese government worries that Xiaolingtong will interfere with signals of the country's upcoming TD-SCDMA service, which has recently been granted an expanded frequency band close to that currently used by Xiaolingtong.
As a low-cost alternative launched by fixed-line telecom operators over cell phone carriers' service, Xiaolingtong gained popularity in China in the early 2000s. But it has been losing momentum in recent years as China Mobile and China Unicom continued to lower their charging fees.
According to government figures, China had 68.9 million Xiaolingtong users last year, a decrease of 15.6 million from 2007. In comparison, mobile phone users in the country grew 94 million to 641 million last year.
In an online survey conducted by China's major Internet portal Sina.com yesterday, about 70 percent of over 35,000 respondents said they still want to use the Xiaolingtong service. Over 30 percent of the respondents said they will turn to China Mobile after the service is shut down.