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Foreign Phone Operators to Get Equal Access to China's 3G Market
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A Chinese government official on Sunday dismissed reports that the government was delaying the issuing of third generation (3G) mobile phone licenses in order to give a developing homegrown system an advantage.


Xi Guohua, Vice Minister of Information Industry, said the network trial of the time division-synchronized code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA) mobile phone standard was unconnected to the timing of the 3G license issue and the selection of operators for the network.


"The pre-commercial trial of TD-SCDMA has nothing to do with the issuing of 3G licenses," Xi said at the annual conference of the Boao Forum of Asia held in the southern island province of Hainan.


Three phone operators -- China Mobile, China Telecom and China Netcom -- are conducting a network trial of TD-SCDMA in ten Chinese cities, prompting speculation that China Unicom will be divided into two and be denied a 3G license.


Some Western governments and companies accuse the government of delaying the issue of 3G licenses to allow its home-grown standard to mature enough to compete with foreign standards, including WCDMA and CDMA2000.


"The Chinese system is mature in terms of technology and is ready for commercial use," said Xi, adding the network trial would help to ensure good services in the early period of commercial use.


He said the two mobile phone operators enjoyed rapid growth, while the business of the two fixed line operators, China Telecom and China Netcom, was stagnating.


"We are trying to create a more competitive market, but we have no timetable on the restructuring of phone operators since there are too many different opinions on it."


Xi said the government would give equal status to WCDMA and CDMA2000 despite its support for the domestic standard.


"They are not contradictory. We will let the operators make decisions on their own which standard they will use and the government will only decide how many 3G licenses will be issued," he added.


The government has promised to provide 3G mobile communications services in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


(Xinhua News Agency April 23, 2007)


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