Global Economics

Beijing's Wireless Olympic Games


China Mobile and others will try out applications such as video calling on China-grown 3G service during the Beijing Olympics

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing looks set to become a testbed for a mix of new wireless technologies, both homegrown and foreign.

TD-SCDMA, the locally-raised 3G technology, will take center stage during the Olympics, thanks to the push by the government.

China earlier this year extended pre-commercial testing of the home-grown 3G standard to 10 cities from the original three, in its latest move to push TD-SCDMA in commercial use.

While China Telecom and China Netcom are to expand their respective TD-CDMA networks in Baoding and Qingdao, China Mobile will set up new networks in seven other cities -Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Shengyang, Qinghuangdao, and expand the existing in Xiamen.

Hu Jian, deputy director of TD-SCDMA at ZTE, the Chinese equipment vendor which claims has won the biggest slice of China Mobile's tender for the extension project, says TD-SCDMA technology is ready for commercial service.

However, he admits handsets still face issues of power consumption, network planning and stability. But he is confident that these issues would be resolved before the Olympics.

"TD-SCDMA will play a critical role during the Olympics and the networks will absolutely be up and running before the Olympics," Hu says.

Hu says ZTE was selected by China Mobile as the sole network supplier for the TD-CDMA network in Beijing, as well as one of the suppliers for the networks in Tianjin, Shengyang, Shenzhen, Xianmen and Qinghuangdao.

The company has already begun shipping equipment for the Beijing network, which will consist of over 3,000 base stations. China Mobile will begin testing applications and services such as video calls, video streaming and mobile TV, following the completion of the network in October.

While the Chinese 3G technology on its own is not likely to be enough to support the telecoms needs of the international community present at the Olympic games, Chinese operators are also looking into Wimax to supplement their offerings.

China Mobile has announced earlier that it will deploy Wimax and WiFi in and around Beijing for the Olympics games, after receiving the go-ahead from the Organizing Committee for the Beijing Olympic Games (BOCOG).

Meanwhile, China Netcom is also reportedly conducting trials on WiMAX, as well as a home-grown broadband wireless technology, called McWiLL, or Multicarrier Wireless Internet Local Loop.

Developed by Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology, a unit under Datang Group, a key supporter for TD-SCDMA, McWiLL is based on SCDMA technology in the 400MHz band.

Local media report that Netcom will use McWiLL in the costal city of Qingdao during Olympic sailing events. It has tested the technology in three other cities - Guangzhou, Nanning and Beijing - for video, voice and data communication.

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