|UMTS Forum welcomes Chinese 3G licensing announcement|
License awards will kick-start investment in mobile broadband development
The UMTS Forum has welcomed news that China has issued 3G licenses on 7 January 2009.
With the endorsement of China’s highest ruling body, the State Council, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technologies (MIIT) announced that it has awarded licenses for third generation (3G) mobile networks to the three state-run telephone operators.
MIIT has stated that it expects license awards will trigger a fresh wave of investments in telecom infrastructure and services, providing extra support to the country’s economy. The Ministry has also indicated recently that it expects the three operators to spend over €30 billion building their networks over the next two years.
China’s second largest mobile group, China Unicom, has confirmed that the company received its 3G licence to roll out 3G mobile services nationally using WCDMA technology. The operator currently has just over 130 million mobile subscribers, while overall mobile penetration in China now stands at nearly 50%, with more than 625 million subscribers.
China Mobile, meanwhile, received a TD-SCDMA licence, while China Telecom was allocated a CDMA2000 licence.
No service launch date has been announced so far. However it is likely that Chinese operators will aim for speedy 3G launches, following on from their extended testing and trial phases.
MIIT has recently predicted that mobile subscriptions will swell to nearly 800 million by 2011. The Ministry also anticipates that the number of 3G users could reach 130 million by 2011 and 500 million within 5 years.
The UMTS Forum has predicted recently that China’s first wave of 3G deployments could be followed by LTE (Long Term Evolution) commercialisation as early as 2012-2013. MIIT already has signalled its focus on evolution towards next-generation networks, with TD-SCDMA offering a pathway to TD-LTE in China.