China urged to roll out 3G strategies soon
The Chinese Government should roll out its third generation (3G) of wireless telecommunications strategies as soon as possible to keep up with 3G development worldwide, according to Gao Yan, president of Mobile Networks with Siemens (China) Communications Group.
"I believe both telecom operators and equipment providers and handset terminal makers are ready for the take off of 3G in China," he told China Daily yesterday in an interview.
It is widely projected that the government will release 3G licences later this year.
"I have no clear timeframe, but it has become very clear that 3G should be kicked off soon if China is to keep pace with the development of 3G worldwide," Gao said.
The government has long adopted an cautious attitude towards 3G deployment as the costs of network upgrades, technologies, as well as terminal handsets are issues of concern.
To better pave the way for its introduction, regulators have conducted two large tests on all-3G related equipment and facilities in the past three years.
Analysts believe that the immaturity of Chinese standard TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), compared to WCDMA (wideband CDMA) and CDMA 2000, which have been put into commercial use in the global market, is a major reason for the delayed decision-making process.
However, Gao said it was high time China began its 3G development.
"3G will be a great opportunity for both domestic operators and telecom equipment makers to stand side by side with their foreign counterparts as 3G will offer an equal footing for competitors," he said.
"And only provided with a market environment can 3G really mature," he said.
In fact, the country is not totally unprepared. Figures show that by the end of last year, the number of WCDMA users had risen to more than 16 million.
And many telecom operators, especially in the European market, have officially begun commercializing their 3G services, which has spurred 3G development.
Both ABG Sundal Collier and Multimedia Research Institute expect that China's WCDMA users are likely to surpass 150 million by the end of next year.
As the world's largest telecommunications market, China has become a "must-be-there" market for almost all 3G equipment providers and terminal producers, including Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, Nortel Network, Ericsson, Huawei, ZTE, Samsung and LG.
"At Siemens, we are ready to roll out a full range of solutions for 3G in China," Gao said.
The firm is currently one of the premier 3G solutions providers, and leads the world market in two of the three 3G standards - WCDMA and TD-SCDMA.
"In addition, we would like to share our experience in the overseas market with domestic telecom operators," he said.
According to him, Siemens has so far wrapped up more than 27 3G contracts with operators in 19 countries and regions. By the end of last year, Siemens and its partner NEC had installed more than 40,000 3G base stations.
"We are carrying out our 3G investment and development step by step and are keeping our position by sticking to the two standards," a situation which enables Siemens to have a "unique position" in China's wireless market, he said.
To maintain its lead, Siemens launched a joint venture with Huawei Technologies on March 18 to develop products based on China's home-grown 3G wireless standard - TD-SCDMA.
The US$100 million joint venture has given a major boost to TD-SCDMA, which is catching up with Europe-based WCDMA and US-favoured CDMA 2000.
The joint venture, TD Tech Ltd, is registered in Hong Kong with Siemens holding a 51 per cent stake with Huawei taking the remainder.
Both Siemens and Huawei will work to convince operators in other countries to launch 3G networks based on the TD-SCDMA standard, he added.