China to issue 3G licenses early in 2009

China will formally issue 3G licenses to the three big state-owned operators by early in the New Year, the Minister for Industry and Information Technology, Li Yizhong, announced on Friday.

Li told a press conference in Beijing that the long-awaited issue of licenses would drive 200 billion yuan ($29 billion) in network investment this year, state media reported.

He confirmed that market leader China Mobile would be awarded a TD-SCDMA license, China Unicom W-CDMA and China Telecom cdma2000.

The announcement follows agreement between the carriers last week on network sharing and joint network construction.

After years of delaying the introduction of 3G in order to foster the development of the local standard, TD-SCDMA, the licensing has been hurried through in order to stimulate the flagging economy.

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