November 18, 2003 6:03 AM PST

China 3G phones to go live in 2005

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China's first 3G cell phone that uses a domestically developed communications standard will move from the labs to commercial sales, with production expected in 2005.

The Chongqing Institute of Posts and Telecommunications, the 3G cell phone developer, signed a letter of intent Sunday with China Putian, the country's largest telecommunications equipment supplier, the Xinhua news agency reported.

Their joint production base in southwest China will produce an initial batch of 3G, or third-generation, cell phones in early 2004 for network experiments. An experimental network, under way in Jiangbei District, Chongqing, in southwestern China, has been set up by Datang, another Chinese telecommunications company.

The new cell phone was developed independently in China with local patents. It uses the China-developed data standard, TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous CDMA). China hopes to commercially use the TD-SCDMA standard, which competes with the European standard W-CDMA (wideband code division multiple access) and the American CDMA2000 standard.

3G phones are widely seen as the next level for mobile telecommunications. Because China is the world's largest single cellular market, with 221 million users and growing by 4 million new subscribers a month, 3G phone adoption in China holds much promise.

The TD-SCDMA is viewed more skeptically because it loses connection in moving cars and has uneven cell-to-cell handover. China's mobile and fixed-line operators have no plans to use TD-SCDMA as their primary network protocol as of now, according to analysts Norson Telecom Consulting.

CNETAsia staff reported from Singapore.


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