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China to see rapid CDMA growth

07 апреля 2009

China's mobile customer base will grow rapidly following 3G rollout, with the strongest growth of all coming from the CDMA side of the market, according to a local analyst.

And that growth will provide a significant opportunity for equipment vendors, with total 3G infrastructure spend in China seen at around US$3 billion this year alone.

"We forecast that China Telecom will deploy more than 300,000 [transceivers] this year," said Will Kong, an analyst at iSuppli Asia, speaking at a press event in Shenzhen, China recently.

China Telecom's 2G licence is based on cdma2000 technology, while China Unicom will roll out WCDMA-based 3G infrastructure and China Mobile is adopting the country's homegrown TD-SCDMA technology.

The capex involved in deploying those 300,000 transceivers "will be up to US$1 billion this year," said Kong. "[That is] a big business opportunity for all equipment vendors," he said.

China's ZTE is the leading player in the local CDMA market, having taken a 27% share by number of transceivers, according to iSuppli.

"Domestic equipment vendors will continue to gain the most share in future," Kong added.

As it stands, China Telecom is by far the smallest of China's three state-owned telecoms giants when it comes to mobile customers. The telco has a mobile customer base of 27 million, Kong said, following its takeover of China Unicom's CDMA business in the industry reshuffle. By contrast, China Unicom has 133 million GSM customers and China Mobile a massive 457 million customers, also based on the GSM standard.

"[In 2009] CDMA subscribers will grow a lot," Kong predicted.

"We suppose China Telecom will get subscribers in the low-end market," he explained. "[And] China Telecom has a good relationship with state-owned companies and the government, so it will attract more… [business subscribers," he said.

Kong also highlighted the fact that China Telecom is the country's largest wireline operator, "so it can combine its fixed-line business with its mobile business to attract more subscribers," he said.

"[China Telecom's] growth rate will be around 50%-70% in the next three years," said Kong.

Of course, China Telecom will not be the only operator in China keen to increase its subscriber base as quickly as possible.

"We think all of them will grow rapidly because China's mobile penetration is still lower than 50%," said Kong, and its population is around 1.4 billion.

However, he noted that China Mobile's growth is likely to be less dramatic than that of China Telecom, partly because TD-SCDMA is a new technology.

Problems with TD-SCDMA infrastructure have largely been resolved, but "the lack of terminals is a question," Kong admitted. But big, non-Chinese vendors, such as Nokia, Samsung, LG and Motorola, have indicated their commitment to producing TD-SCDMA phones and as such more devices should be available in the second half of the year.

All this growth is backed by significant investment in infrastructure.

As mentioned, iSuppli predicts China Telecom will spend $1.1 billion on 3G equipment this year, up from the $650 million it spent on wireless infrastructure last year.

China Unicom's wireless infrastructure capex for this year is "also around $1 billion," said Kong, while China Mobile is expected to exceed the $900 million it spent on TD-SCDMA equipment in 2008; the telco spent a sizeable $3.6 billion on GSM equipment last year.

"[That's around] $3 billion on the 3G," in 2009, said Kong, plus additional spending from all three on 2G networks.

Источник: Total Telecom

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