China delays 3G permits for up to two years

Licences for China's homegrown 3G mobile standard may not be granted for another one or two years, a Reuters report said. Jonathan Dharmapalan, partner and head of Ernst & Young's global telecoms centre in Beijing, predicted that the roll-out of the local standard time division synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA) will probably mirror that of GSM in Europe, where commercial trials lasted for 12 to 18 months before it became widely used.

Several analysts have said that the long-delayed licences for commercial operation of 3G mobile services based on the TD-SCDMA standard would probably be issued late this year or early in 2009.

Dharmapalan, quoted in a local newspaper, said he expected it to take between 12 and 24 months from the start of China's commercial TD-SCDMA trials before licences were issued to operators.

China has promised to offer broadband-grade web quality via mobile devices for visitors to the Beijing Olympics in August, but widespread availability in China is increasingly likely to be delayed well beyond that date.

Dharmapalan added that China may launch licences for the W-CDMA and CDMA2000 standards for 3G, already well established outside China, alongside TD-SCDMA.

China Mobile's parent company started commercial trials of TD-SCDMA in eight Chinese cities at the beginning of April. China Mobile is the country's biggest operator.