Editor's Corner

The Chinese government's adamant quest to push the home-grown, never-deployed TD-SCDMA 3G standard looks like it may hurt some of its own carriers and equipment suppliers rather than establish the country as a leader in advanced technology.

While TD-SCDMA boasts several technological advantages over W-CDMA and CDMA2000, such as supporting more users on a given frequency band, economies of scale matters more now that W-CDMA and CDMA2000 are more mature technologies. Despite the government's push to give TD-SCDMA a level playing field by halting all W-CDMA test networks, those operators forced to deploy TD-SCDMA will still be at a major disadvantage. Norson Telecom Consulting expects China Mobile to receive a WCDMA license, while China Unicom will be given the OK to operate CDMA2000. Landline providers and wireless newcomers China Telecom and China Netcom will probably be the recipients of TD-SCDMA licenses.

That means China Mobile and China Unicom will have an inherent advantage, with the ability to roll out proven technology faster while taking advantage of economies of scale for equipment and handsets. In this extremely price sensitive market, why would Chinese consumers opt to purchase more expensive technology from TD-SCDMA carriers who will probably offer worse coverage than their competitors? Will the government have to subsidize TD-SCDMA services just to make the technology a success? How far will the Chinese government go to make sure TD-SCDMA gets equal footing with today's 3G standards? - Lynnette