3G mobile go-ahead scheduled for 2005
Third generation (3G) mobile telecoms have been given a definite development timetable for the first time in China.
"In collaboration with related government sectors, we are to make suggestions for the development at an appropriate time this year," Minister of Information Industry Wang Xudong said yesterday.
Wang said at a working conference in Beijing the market will be cultivated and supported with improved supervision, reforms, a fairer market environment and a stronger "industrial chain."
The minister's remarks "conveyed a good message to both telecom operators and equipment providers as China is to accelerate its 3G development strategies," said Chen Jinqiao, director of the China Academy of Telecommunications Research under the ministry.
In fact, despite an increasing demand for 3G development, the Chinese Government has long been treated calls with caution.
But it is no longer able to ignore the overwhelming market potential in the Chinese market, which is drawing almost all telecoms-related domestic and foreign firms into the market.
"We will see an increasing investment in all 3G-related areas as the policy becomes clearer," he said.
Compared to the existing mobile telecom services which mainly focus on voice business, 3G offers a wide range of new telecom services such as multi-media services, mobile television, mobile banking, mobile securities and location-based services.
There are three 3G standards acknowledged by the International Telecom Unicom: the European-based WCDMA (Wideband CDMA), US Qualcomm-based CDMA 2000 and Chinese TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access).
The standards command different bandwidths with fast data transmitting speed.
Analysts believe the launch of 3G strategies will bring positive opportunities to equipment and mobile handset suppliers.
It will also be good news for China's fixed line operators, especially China Telecom and China Netcom, as it will enable them to enter China's lucrative mobile market.
"As evidenced by 3G uptake in the US, South Korea, Japan and now Western Europe, we believe 3G will benefit Chinese telecom carriers, equipment vendors, application developers and ultimately, consumers," said Wang Jing, senior vice-president and chairman of Qualcomm Greater China.
"Also, 3G will bring consumers a more exciting wireless life and far better value of services. It will provide more opportunities for the Chinese companies to expand internationally."
CDMA 2000 and WCDMA are already well established and growing, registering more than 140 million subscribers so far by 113 operators in 50 countries and regions.
"We are quite confident that the commercialization of the TD-SCDMA system will be realized in June this year," said one official whose firm is a member enterprise to the TD-SCDMA alliance, who refused to be named.
He said more than 10 handsets supporting the TD-SCDMA system would be launched in June.
Information from the ministry showed the country's telecom and postal sectors were expected to make sales of 977 billion yuan (US$117.7 billion) last year, accounting for 7.5 per cent of the gross domestic product.
Telecom revenue is expected to reach 520.5 billion yuan (US$62.7 billion), representing a growth of 13 per cent from the previous year, while the figure for the postal sector is forecast to be 53.8 billion yuan (US$6.48 billion).
The ministry blueprint also showed that the industry is set to make 1.145 trillion yuan (US$137.9 billion) this year.
The goal for the telecoms sector and electronic information sector is set at 425 billion yuan (US$51.2 billion) and 720 billion yuan (US$86.74 billion).