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Telecom in China: After the Dust Settles

Brough Turner

The long rumored reorganization of the telecommunications sector in China has begun. Now China will have three major companies, each with both mobile and fixed networks. The focus for fixed network growth is broadband Internet access. The focus for mobile will be continued growth in mobile subscribers and the launch of 3G services, with the three companies using three different 3G technologies.

Actual 3G licenses are still delayed until the reorganization is complete, nominally 12-18 months. As I wrote last month, China's home brew 3G technology, TD-SCDMA, is being deployed now. Other 3G licenses will have to wait until there is some measure of success with TD-SCDMA. What's different now, is two major firms will be lobbying to speed up 3G licensing.

Here's the new lineup:

  • China Mobile
    392 million GSM mobile subscribers
    Now incorporating the fixed telecom and datacom backbone networks of China Tietong
    3G technology — TD-SCDMA
  • China Telecom
    Largest fixed line operator concentrated in Shanghai and the south
    50 million Personal Handy phone subscribers (Xiaolingtong)
    60% of China's Internet backbone
    Now incorporating 43 million CDMA mobile subscribers from China Unicom
    Also incorporating the basic telecom services of China Satallite
    3G technology — CDMA 2000
  • China Netcom — China Unicom merger (to be called China Unicom)
    Second largest fixed line operator concentrated in Beijing and the north
    Combined with 125 million GSM subscribers from China Unicom
    Also operates Xiaolingtong systems
    Major Internet backbone and Internet service provider
    3G technology — 3GSM

I'm still waiting for a summary of what went on yesterday at Mobile Monday Beijing, where the topic was "The Long March to 3G." I'll bet it was interesting!

By Brough Turner, Founder & CTO at netBlazr
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