Third-generation (3G) telephony is not available on the Chinese mainland yet but subscribers in one city district can now go beyond where no one has ever gone.
The world's first fourth-generation (4G) mobile communication system was officially launched yesterday in Shanghai's Changning District after a field trial was conducted in October.
The home-grown 4G system provides speeds of up to 100 mbps in wireless transmission of data and images many times faster than that of current mobile technology.
The rollout of the trial, which has cost 150 million yuan ($19.2 million), is a milestone in the development of China's 4G technologies.
"It testifies that the technology we've developed is feasible and brings us one step closer to put it into commercial use," said You Xiaohu, a leading expert involved in the program.
China initiated the B3G (Beyond 3G)/4G research project in 2001 under the label Future Technology for Universal Radio Environment, or FuTURE Project, which is included in the national high-tech development plan.
The country has set a goal of conducting field tests of the 4G system and putting it into trial commercial use between 2006 and 2010, according to the FuTURE Project.
"The Shanghai system shows that we have entered the final phase of our project," said You, also the principal of the FuTURE Project's expert panel.
The FuTURE Project involves about 10 leading domestic institutions.
It has obtained more than 200 patents and some of its core technologies have been adopted by international standards organizations, positioning China as one of the world's front-runners in 4G technologies.
4G mobile communication, which is expected to be used commercially by around 2010, will be able to transmit data as quickly as optical fiber, dramatically improving the streaming of high-quality images and data services through wireless transmission.
China has yet to award domestic telecom operators licences to build 3G (third generation) mobile phone networks, but Wang Xudong, minister of information industry, told reporters at the ITU Telecom World 2006 last month that it could happen "very soon".
(China Daily January 29, 2007)