Japan, South Korea May Soon Test TD-SCDMA Networks

China Mobile is working with partners in Japan and South Korea to set up trials of TD-SCDMA networks as part of a bid to promote use of the Chinese-developed 3G mobile technology outside China.

So far, China Mobile is the only company that uses TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access). But the world's largest mobile service provider hopes more mobile phone network operators will try out TD-SCDMA technology.

"We are very much encouraging these trials," said Wang Jianzhou, chairman and CEO of China Mobile at a news conference Thursday at one of the company's Shenzhen offices.

China Mobile has had to work with makers of network equipment and mobile phones to encourage them to support the technology, even though they already support other 3G technologies in wide use.

The Chinese government encourages the development of home-developed standards such as TD-SCDMA so it can reduce reliance on foreign technologies, and has helped overcome some of the obstacles to TD-SCDMA's growth through research subsidies and industry development funds. For example, a special incentive fund to drive research and development of TD-SCDMA products recently resulted in a batch of 11 new smartphones, according to Reading Gao, general manager of China Mobile's data services department.

Those new smartphones include the Motorola Snapper, a previously unannounced touchscreen smartphone, the Samsung GT-i8180C, the LG GW880, the Dopod 8388 and more. The phones are all undergoing testing and are expected to be on the market by the end of this year, he said.

Five low-priced TD-SCDMA handsets were also among the new designs.

Wang has blamed a lack of lower-cost TD-SCDMA smartphones for the slow uptake of 3G subscriptions among customers. He hopes to see more smartphones priced around 1,000 Chinese yuan (US$147) on the market soon.

Most users of China Mobile's 3G network signed up for Internet dongles or data cards for laptops, Wang said.

Wang declined to name the partners his company is working with in Japan and South Korea. China Potevio, a network equipment maker, signed an agreement in July to operate a test TD-SCDMA network in Italy.

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