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China keeps 3G schedule on hold

19 октября 2007

China has no timetable for issuing third-generation mobile telephone licences, a senior regulator announced on Thursday, saying 3G services still lacked a clear business model.

China keeps 3G schedule on hold The comments by Lou Qinjian, vice-minister of information industry, make clear officials are in no rush to introduce 3G wireless services in one of the world’s most important markets for telecoms equipment.

International equipment manufacturers have for years keenly awaited Chinese approval for 3G, which is expected to unleash a multibillion-dollar spending wave on mobile networks.

While 3G technology was “mature” internationally, its operating model and capacity for future development were “still not that great”, Mr Lou said in a rare news conference held to mark the congress of China's ruling Communist party in Beijing.

“To actually issue licences, we need to consider the business model and all kinds of management issues – and we are still in the process of researching these,” Mr Lou said.

Some analysts believe Beijing's main reason for delay is to allow its favoured TD-SCDMA 3G technology to catch up with the much more widely used European-backed WCDMA standard and its US rival CDMA2000.

Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief executive of Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone maker, said it was “very clear” TD-SCDMA would be one of the 3G technologies used in China.

Mobile operators such as Vodafone have hyped up 3G mobile services such as faster web browsing after multibillion spending on new networks.

American and European consumers, however, have so far shown limited appetite for the services.

Beijing is clearly concerned that China’s new 3G networks might prove a poor return for its four big state-controlled but internationally listed operators.

Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China Unicom, the country’s number two mobile operator, on Thursday said the global development of 3G had shown the government “was not wrong” not to rush to issue licences.

Mr Lou dismissed suggestions of a possible link between the timing of 3G licence issuance and next year’s Olympics in Beijing, in spite of the host’s pledge to have some form of 3G wireless services in place by then.

Источник: Financial Times

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