China Mobile has added another four major telecommunications makers, including two foreign ones, to its list of possible equipment contractors and suppliers for its third generation network worth 20 billion yuan (US$2.56 billion), sources said yesterday.
The four telecom firms are Ericsson, Alcatel Shanghai Bell, FiberHome Technologies and Guangzhou New Postcom Equipment Co, according to media reports. They joined Datang Mobile, Potevio, ZTE and TD Tech.
The eight hope to be heavily involved in China Mobile's TD-SCDMA (time division synchronous code division multiple access) network construction.
China Mobile plans to set up TD-SCDMA networks in several major cities nationwide soon to ensure 3G services are available in time for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.
China Mobile's final investment figure hasn't been decided because the carrier submitted three different investment budgets to government regulators, Wang Jianping, a research director of the China Center of Information Industry Development, told Shanghai Daily. The center is authorized by the Ministry of Information Industry.
The investment budgets range from 16 billion yuan to 28 billion yuan, industry officials said.
ASB, a joint venture controlled by France-based Alcatel, confirmed it is one of the telcos on the list, the firm said yesterday. Ericsson China and China Mobile declined to comment yesterday.
"The equipment makers are key players in the 3G industry chain and they will be the first to benefit from 3G," Wang said, adding that investment in 3G-related equipment will reach 50 to 60 billion yuan annually in the next five years in China.
China, the world's No. 1 mobile phone market, is expected to issue the first 3G license for its own-developed TD-SCDMA to support the home-grown industry, analysts said. Licenses will be issued later for two western-developed 3G technologies, they said.
Foreign firms have deepened cooperation with Chinese firms on the TD-SCDMA technology. ASB partnered Datang Mobile and Nokia joined Potevio.
(Shanghai Daily March 9, 2007)