China Mobile Group has announced that 3G services based on China’s homegrown TD-SCDMA standard will begin commercial trials in eight cities, starting tomorrow and ending in July. The company said it will launch trial services in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Shenyang, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Qinhuangdao. 20,000 selected users will be given free TD-SCDMA handsets as well as subsidies of up to RMB800 (USD114) per month, the company said. A further 40,000 TD-SCDMA handsets will be made available to paying customers, on a variety of service packages. For those that pay, the 3G handsets will be discounted by up to RMB200 while airtime will be offered at a 50% discount. China Mobile is also offering 15,000 datacards for laptop users.
In the first half of 2006, China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII) selected China Mobile and the two principal fixed line operators, China Telecom and China Netcom, to build pre-commercial TD-SCDMA networks; China Mobile was made responsible for networks in eight of the 10 trial cities. China Mobile completed the first phase of its TD-SCDMA network rollout in January and is expected to begin work on expanding the network to cover 300 cities in the first half of this year. China Telecom and China Netcom have not yet set dates for their own commercial trials, having installed TD-SCDMA networks in the northern cities of Baoding and Qingdao respectively. So far eleven companies have won licences from the MII to manufacture TD-SCDMA handsets.