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So far, the Chinese wireless industry was limited to 2G and 2.5G networks due to its government’s reluctance to pursue a license for a 3G standard. This was understandable some time ago (they tried to develop their own), but is nothing short of total idiocy nowadays as WCDMA and CDMA2000 are widely established and a new standard is neither needed nor likely to receive manufacturer support (and let’s not talk about roaming).
Fortunately, the Chinese government is on its way to reason according to a recent Reuters report:
The council did not say when the licences would be issued by the Ministry of Industry of Information, but the industry minister has said it would happen by early 2009.
China has repeatedly delayed awarding the licences while it worked on the broader task of reorganising its telecoms industry, a task it began earlier this year.
As part of that reorganisation, the ministry has said China Mobile (0941.HK) would be awarded a licence for a TD-SCDMA network, a standard backed by Beijing.
In addition, China Unicom (0762.HK) would be awarded a licence for WCDMA and China Telecom (0728.HK) for CDMA 2000.
While I do not expect these networks to become fully operational for at least another year, this definitely is a great step forward for the Chinese wireless industry! The times of weird 3G restrictions on devices like the iPhone 3G should be gone for good…
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Unknown, editing by Tam Hanna