3G licensing delayed until next year?

25 May 2006

According to reports carried by online news service Xinhua, China will delay the award of 3G licences until early 2007. It had been expected that Beijing would award the concessions on 17 May, World Telecommunications Day, but this date came and went without any announcement by the MII, the Chinese telecoms regulator. MII officials, which had previously publicly committed to issue the licences this year, have declined to comment on the revised schedule.

China had been expected to award a national TD-SCDMA licence first, then issue two further licences based on the W-CDMA and CDMA2000 standards. However, the homegrown technology is still not yet fully ready for commercial use, forcing the government to delay the licence awards. Trials of TD-SCDMA are not now expected to completed before the end of the third quarter, having been put back from the earlier deadline of 30 June. Currently TD-SCDMA technology is being tested in Qingdao in Shandong Province, Baoding in Hebei Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province. China Telecom, the country’s biggest fixed-line phone operator and the company most likely to be given the TD-SCDMA concession, claims it can provide services on the TD-SCDMA network within eight months of being given the concession.

China, China Mobile, China Unicom