China's information technology authority Tuesday reiterated its determination to promote a unique wireless technology standard nationwide in order to protect information security. But some US firms threatened to stop supplying certain chips to the country unless it follows the international standard.
Starting from June 1, only wireless modems supporting a standard designed by China Broadband Wireless IP Standard Group, the industry standard body authorized by the Ministry of Information Industry, will be able to communicate with Chinese telecom operators, it said yesterday in a statement carried by the Website of Sina Corp.
The proposed standard acts like languages between computers within the same wireless local area network, or wireless LAN. The technology helps people to access the Internet without cable lines in public places such as airports, conference centers, hotels, restaurants and cafes.
The announcement could be seen as China's answer to some leading US high-tech firms, such as Broadcom Corp, which threaten to stop providing chips to China.
Recently, some US-based wireless LAN chipmakers threatened to stop export to China. They hoped to persuade the Chinese government to continue using the international standard in future.
"We won't care what those US companies do because many wireless LAN equipment makers are available in Europe and Taiwan. They won't give up the huge potential market in the Chinese mainland," said Liu Chaoyang, the spokesman of the group.
The wireless LAN equipment market size was estimated at about 300 million yuan (US$36.14 million) to 400 million yuan in sales last year, according to CCID Consulting Co Ltd, a far cry from previous years when sales were almost zero.
The Chinese government decided to roll out its own standard for wireless LAN partly due to a flaw in information security under the international standard.
Currently, an international standard of wireless LAN is used in China but the government declared at the end of last year that the country will use its own standard with additional technology to improve the country's information security.
"Otherwise, some state secrets will leak through wireless LAN," Liu added.
"The overseas chipmakers have to incur cost to customize their products to support the new Chinese standard," said Han Yirong, a semiconductor analyst at CCID Consulting Co Ltd.
"On the other hand, the central government has no other choice actually."
(Shanghai Daily February 4, 2004)