China procrastinates over 3G as TD-SCDMA fails to deliver

11 Nov 2004

The Chinese government is dithering over its final decision on the award process for 3G licences after field tests of the country’s home-grown TD-SCDMA standard show the technology to be falling behind the performance of rival W-CDMA and CDMA2000 protocols. Uncertainty over the technology has hampered the year-long process of licence approvals for UMTS, with the Chinese authorities seemingly unsure over how best to position TD-SCDMA in the light of recent poor performances. Field tests conducted by the regulator, the MII, show that the European W-CDMA standard performed best in a series of tests with 17 different mobile handsets, while the American CDMA2000 alternative performed well in both system operation and handset compatibility tests. However, TD-SCDMA fared less well, leaving Chen Jinqiao, the director of the Institute of Telecommunication Policy think-tank, calling for a delay in the licence awards to allow China to further develop the technology. Mr Chen argues that a third mobile standard is crucial to sector competition as ‘from our experience in 2G . . . the competition among two nationwide GSM networks was ineffective’. China previously announced plans to issue 3G licences by mid-2005.