BEIJING -- China Mobile, the country's top wireless operator, announced Friday it would begin trial services of the indigenous third-generation (3G) mobile phone service from April 1.
The trial high-speed wireless connection service would be based on the Chinese standard, known as TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), in eight major cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Six of the eight cities are hosting events for the Beijing Olympics in August. China has promised to provide 3G mobile phone services in time for the Games.
China Mobile would provide 20,000 users with handsets worth 2,000 yuan (282 US dollars) to 4,000 yuan each and data cards free of charge for the trial use, it said. A monthly subsidy of 800 yuan would also be offered to each user.
The first batch of 3G handsets were made by six producers, including China's Lenovo, Hisense and ZTE, and South Korea's Samsung and LG.
"Authoritative institutions" would be commissioned to collect feedback from trial users, it added.
A company spokesman said the trial service would have nothing to do with the issuance of 3G licenses. He did not disclose how long the trial service would last or whether it would be extended to other cities.
"The next move will be taken depending on the test results of the trial," he said.
The company says its TD-SCDMA network could accommodate 8 million users.
China had 565 million mobile phone users by the end of last month, about 43 percent of the population.
The International Telecommunication Union recognized TD-SCDMA as one of the world's three official 3G standards in 2000. The other two are Europe's WCDMA and North America's CDMA 2000.
The Chinese government last year approved the use of the European and American standards in China.