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20,000 Subscribers to Experience 3G in October
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According to a source close to TD-SCDMA (China's 3G mobile telecommunications standard) Industry Alliance, some "friendly subscribers" of telecom operators will enter the TD trial network and receive 3G (third generation mobile communication) services from October. As the earliest 3G customers in China, they will witness the last step of commercialization of China's 3G industry.

The chosen few will be selected from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and five other cities, numbering 20,000 in total. It is estimated that the first customers will enter the network around the middle of October after domestic tests of TD-SCDMA finish at the end of this month.

3G provides services like taking photos, reading and receiving emails, downloading movies and music, surfing the internet, sending and receiving multimedia short messages with cell phones.

Of late, a breakthrough has been made in the optimization of the TD-SCDMA network. Connectivity has reached 95 percent and problems related to the system itself and its terminal applications have been solved.

An insider told the Beijing News Monday at a test site in Baoding, Hebei Province that among the five TD test cities, Qingdao, Baoding and Xiamen would be bound to find problems in establishing a city-wide network while Beijing and Shanghai tested in LAN and solved the problems found in previous tests.

The network access for customers signals the transformation of TD trial network from a test network to a para-commercial one and will set a good base for final commercialization, said the source.

This view is echoed by Shen Zixin, a telecom analyst with Pday Research, a domestic telecom consulting institute. "The trial for 20,000 customers is important for TD and the last step for its commercialization."

Another insider analyzed that the choices among the "friendly subscribers" showed a PR coup due to the subscribers being from governmental departments, cooperative clients of operators and industry insiders. "Some operators and industry insiders were skeptical on the technological advantages and performance of the network and terminals." He added.

Yang Hua, secretary-general of TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance Monday refused to comment.

It is said that to establish a favorable environment for the development of TD-SCDMA Industry, related departments tone down a propaganda campaign. From now on, most 3G-related forums or summits will remain private with industry insiders also keeping quiet.

According to the latest report from Pday Research, TD-SCDMA is expected to begin business before the end of 2006. In 2007, LANs will be established in regions like Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta and the Bohai Rim, the three major economic developed areas in China. The construction of a national TD-SCDMA network will be launched in 2008 to be completed in 2009. The network will then be optimized and see its capacity gradually expand. Moreover, statistics from Pday Research show that the TD-SCDMA subscribers in China will number between 2 million to 4.76 million by 2007.

Latest news from the NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission) shows that the NDRC and the Ministry of Information Industry reached a consensus to establish the TD-SCDMA trial network in six partner cities of the Beijing Olympic Games by the end of 2006, namely Tianjin, Shanghai, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shenyang and Hong Kong.

( by Li Shen, September 21, 2006)


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