Chinese companies developing the homegrown 3G or third-generation mobile communications technology, TD-SCDMA, have called on the government to issue operation licenses as tests are nearing completion.
However, according to a recent report published on sohu.com, ongoing tests on TD-SCDMA have revealed many problems and there were suggestions that the technology is still immature.
By contrast, an industry insider said: "The test is going on quite well and no serious problems have occurred in the process." The unnamed person said this during a forum on TD-SCDMA terminals and applications that was held in Hangzhou from July 7 to 8. He refused to say anything more about the test other than it would be completed either by October or no later than the end of the year.
China had initially scheduled to issue the first 3G licenses this year, but this reportedly could be put off to next year. This is because the 3G licensing agenda is reportedly partially dependent on the successful testing of TD-SCDMA using real networks in five cities in China, which was scheduled to finish by the first half of this year.
"A new technology cannot mature if it is not put on the market," said Zhao Yan, vice president of Koretide Corp, a Shanghai-based company engaged in mobile operation systems research based on TD-SCDMA.
"It would grow up quickly through self-adjustment and international capital would flow in soon once the license is issued," Zhao added.
Wang Jing, secretary-general of the TD-SCDMA Forum, agreed and said that the government could not wait for the technology to be "problem-free".
One disadvantage of TD-SCDMA is a lack of support from first-class international companies, which has made the technology weaker in terms of competition against the other two 3G standards, UMTS and CDMA2000.
Wang added that the government has yet to draw up a clear 3G road map.
Wang also pointed out that TD-SCDMA has been through several rounds of testing previously and "no vital defects".
Wu Guohua, senior vice president of Holley Communications, said that companies need to have some idea when the technology can be put into large-scaled commercialization. For the moment, they can't make any future plans because of the many indefinite factors and circumstances.
Zhao believes that the government, operators and venture capitalists are all worried about whether TD-SCDMA will succeed, but it's impossible to be sure unless it is put into real operation.
"License delay might bring vital risks to companies engaged in TD-SCDMA and it's time to issue the licenses."
There is a lot of interest surrounding 3G technology as a viable telecoms application in China. However, some experts have said that it is not necessary for China to launch 3G services because market demand is not strong enough.
3G network construction is like building an expressway, Wang said, adding that the industry will find opportunities of making money when the network is ready.
An expert who chose to remain anonymous said that 3G has become a must for China it comes under the national strategy of innovation. Foregoing a 3G launch would be dealing a heavy blow to the country's telecoms industry, the expert said.
(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2006)