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Who Needs China's New 3G Technology?

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on January 18, 2008

Nobody, according to ABI Research. At least, nobody who’s boss isn’t a Chinese government official. While at least one of China’s state-controlled telecom operators is sure to offer service using the country’s own 3G standard, in a report that came out last week (which I missed until now but just saw thanks to EETimes), ABI analyst Hwai Lin Khor predicts “TD-SCDMA is likely to face an uphill battle outside of Mainland China, even in Hong Kong.”

Beijing has endlessly delayed the launch of 3G in China because Beijing has wanted to promote the development of a home-grown alternative to the two 3G standards common everywhere else in the world. Since the work on the Chinese standard, TD-SCDMA, has taken a lot longer than anybody in the government seems to have expected, the 3G story in China has been one of delay after delay, with people in the industry hopefully predicting that this time things would be different and the government would finally get moving and give out 3G licenses to Chinese telecom operators. Well, we’re now in January of 2008 and not only does China not have 3G service, it still hasn’t even awarded 3G licenses. This was supposed to be China’s flagship project to prove to the world that the country could be an innovation leader. If so, let’s hope for China’s sake that the other projects go a lot better.

That said, TD-SCDMA service is finally getting started, in fits and starts. There are lots of trials underway nationwide and some people (in one of those examples of hope triumphing over experience) believe that this is really the year when Beijing will take action. “China’s TD-SCDMA ecosystem is ready,” reports ABI. Let’s see.

Reader Comments


January 18, 2008 10:02 AM

Thanks to the great vision of the leaders in China, we will see once again behold the technological might of China and her tremendous contributions the world of innovation. TD-SCDMA will be the predominant 3G standard of the world in two years. It will transform the whole telecom industry worldwide. 2008 will be the year of China! This will be the China century and the China millenium! So get ready for China's technological domination and leadership by 2015.

Oh, wait. For a moment I thought I was Indian. Never mind.


January 18, 2008 4:48 PM

According to ABI research Chinese telecom influence in HK is increasing. Also, creating a new standard to compete with world standard takes time and it is not easy in case that you are not familiar with R & D process.
Below is article provide by ABI Research
SINGAPORE - January 11, 2008 Contact: Nicole Fabris
Contact PR

TD-SCDMA is expected to be the dominant 3G technology in China, due to the heavyweight government support it receives. However there are no indications that 3G licenses will be issued by the end of 2007, and according to ABI Research analyst Hwai Lin Khor, “TD-SCDMA is likely to face an uphill battle outside of Mainland China, even in Hong Kong.”

China’s TD-SCDMA ecosystem is ready. Both Chinese and international industry players are already showing off their multimode handsets with TDSCDMA/GSM/GPRS/EDGE interfaces. The deployed network infrastructure is already upgraded to an HSDPA-enhanced version. TD-SCDMA’s intellectual property rights holder, Datang Mobile, is already working towards an evolution of TD-SCDMA that will eventually incorporate LTE. The evidence suggests that the current 3G delay is due to regulatory complications rather than technical ones.

ABI Research believes that the restructuring of the telecommunications industry will continue through Q1 2008. The first TD-SCDMA license will be issued at the end of the quarter. Initial TD-SCDMA services will be provided in the ten cities where China Mobile, China Telecom and China Netcom have deployed trial networks. The rest of the 3G licenses will be released six to nine months after TD-SCDMA. Hwai Lin Khor notes, “If the price points of handsets and services are attractive, TD-SCDMA may not need to fear WCDMA in the domestic market.”

China’s influence on Hong Kong’s telecommunications industry is becoming more significant. This is apparent through the recent 850MHz band spectrum auction for CDMA2000 services, to ensure continuity of roaming services for China’s visitors using CDMA handsets.

“It is no surprise that TD-SCDMA will eventually make its move into the island once the Chinese government has finalized its 3G outcome,” says Hwai Lin Khor. In fact, 5MHz of TDD spectrum was already allocated to the UMTS licensees when the license was issued. “However, the success of TD-SCDMA in a mature market such as Hong Kong’s is heavily dependent on market forces. It will face tough competition outside Mainland China.”

“3G and Beyond in China and Hong Kong”, a new study from ABI Research, examines the regulations, technologies, handset and infrastructure vendors’ challenges, and operators’ competitive landscape in both China and Hong Kong and provides forecasts of the performance benchmarks of both countries.

The report is a component of four ABI Research Services: Mobile Devices, Mobile Operators, Wireless Infrastructure , and Wireless Semiconductors.

ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.


January 21, 2008 3:56 AM

TD-SCDMA tech is just a good start for China to have it's own tech less dependent on the western companies. Whether it cost much money or run at a loss, the building of it will bring China an access to the core know-how of telecom industry. Furthermore, following 3G, 4G is emerging, China enjoys the same potential market of 4G as western countries.

Katie Leung

January 21, 2008 1:25 PM


January 22, 2008 2:39 AM

It is obvious that the Chinese government will support the native innovation of 3G. Chinese tasted the bitterness of patent fees on DVD, so the government will not touch the same way on 3G. They will advocate self-innovation and enhance the competetive ability of the native company. The delay after delay is the common situation on 3G.

Katie Leung

February 4, 2008 10:00 AM

China awards access licenses for homegrown 3G network

"The move indicated that the technology, TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), was entering the commercial stage."

Bjarne Rosenlykke

August 6, 2009 9:37 AM

The ABI Research must have been influenced by common US based opinions and conditions, or maybe jalouxy? It is commondly known that US lack seriously behind the rest of the world when it comes to 3G technology.
In China with many remote locations not yet having proper medical facilities in place, the 3G can support medical telemetry and as such enhance the quality of life for millions of people. This is only one way of using 3G for the interest of the public, and there are possibly many more where China's 3G technology can support public, industry and business. Yes, China has been late to launch their 3G system; however, from a technology point of view, their system is faster, proving speed up to 2MBit, whereas the other 3G systems support up to 356KBit. Let's get the facts on the table and not make too many assumptions based on own interests and emotions.

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