Standard Procedure

It looks like China will go ahead with establishing its own 3G mobile-phone standard, a move that will leave the global market with three separate standards for 3G handsets. Until now, China has been notoriously inscrutable about which standard it would opt for. Meanwhile, patiently waiting telecom suppliers sat quietly and licked their lips in anticipation of the profits the final decision might earn them.

When the decision is made, it will unleash the spending of billions of Euros on establishing new networks. Throw into the mix the fact that China already has close to 500 million mobile-phone users, pushing that monetary figure up by more than a million a month, and it’s easy to understand why the global telecom industry is salivating at the prospect.

So, all China has to do is to make sure that its standard will compete adequately with the European and American supported networks. So who has what network? China is preparing to launch its government endorsed and funded network TDSCDMA (time division-synchronous code division multiple access), which was developed by the state-owned Datang Telecom Company. Here in Europe, we like WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access). Europeans see this as the most widely used standard, and, in fact, a number of senior Chinese experts consider this a better standard option for China. Finally, there’s the CDMA2000, which is the standard favoured by America.

So why should China decide to pioneer its own standard rather than join the international community and adopt a tried and tested approach? Well, understandably, there’s a hefty slice of national interest here. It wants to be seen as a country that can develop and implement (or you could say impose) international technology standards.

Okay, so there’s nothing wrong with that. We in Europe and the USA have been doing it for years. Secondly, those international telecom companies seeking to boost their profits in China may find it harder than expected. China’s strategy of going for its own standard may well provide its local telecom companies with considerable trading advantages on their home ground.

TAGS: Mobile
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