Chinese 3G could be delayed to 2010 claims Beijing analyst
China is often described as the next big market for cellular technology, but consumers there will likely have to wait a while longer before they can get 3G service on their handsets. According to Jonathan Dharmapalan, a partner at Ernst & Young and head of the company’s global telecommunications centre in Beijing, the rollout and licencing of China’s home-grown TD-SCDMA standard could potentially be delayed until 2010. Citing parallels with GSM’s development and deployment, Dharmapalan suggested that trials of the high-speed technology, which began this month, will likely last between 12 and 24 months before any licencing to carriers takes place.
TD-SCDMA is China’s own alternative 3G standard, which it created to avoid arguments over licencing fees for existing technologies. It then went on to put pressure on carriers, supposedly, to support TD-SCDMA either alongside or instead of other CDMA alternatives. The original intention was to have the 3G network up and running in time for the Beijing Olympics in August, but outside of the city users are expected to have to wait significant periods before they have high-speed cellular access. Analysts initially estimated licencing to take place at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2009, but according to Dharmapalan that is looking increasingly unlikely.
China Mobile, who are operating the trial deployment, have issued 20,000 handsets and 5,000 data cards using TD-SCDMA to users in Beijing and seven other cities. Motorola and Nokia are among the manufacturers ready to produce compatible hardware once the 3G carriers are selected. The Chinese government are yet to comment on suggestions that the licencing will be further delayed.