China Mobile Outlines Big 3G Marketing, Spending Plans

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The world's largest mobile phone service provider Thursday outlined its plans to upgrade its 2G network to 3G across China and market the more expensive technology to subscribers.

China Mobile, which boasted close to 464 million subscribers as of the end of January, has earmarked 133.9 billion Chinese yuan (US$19.6 billion) for capital spending next year, 76 percent of which will be used on its 3G work.

As it rolls out the 3G network, China Mobile also plans to prepare for LTE (Long Term Evolution), speedy mobile broadband, the company said at a presentation on its annual report.

To these ends, capital spending at China Mobile will remain high in 2010 before dropping in 2011, according to the company.

China Mobile plans to spend 131.0 billion yuan in 2010, then fall to 110.5 billion yuan a year later.

Prices for 3G products and services tend to be higher than 2G, and China Mobile made clear that it would not force a change on users.

"2G and 3G will continue to be used in our network for a considerable period of time in the future," the company said.

Devices that can work on both 2G and 3G will be key to the company's attempts to encourage user uptake to 3G.

The company is making sure dual-mode mobile phones are available. There are also dual mode 3G/2G data cards for laptops and other devices.

The purely 3G devices China Mobile plans to support initially are netbooks and some laptops, as well as 3G home wireless gateways.

China Mobile began rolling out its 3G network last year ahead of the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. The company was chosen to champion China's home grown TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) technology for its 3G networks, a challenge considering its rivals are using foreign-made technology.

China Unicom, for example, is using the more widely accepted WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) standard.

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