China's largest mobile operator, China Mobile, is reported to have asked equipment vendors to submit informal bids for TD-SCDMA kit.
China Mobile, which runs a GSM network, is currently running a large scale trial of the homegrown 3G platform and is likely to get a TD-SCDMA licence when the country allocates spectrum.
Apparently, the Chinese subsidiaries of Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Ericsson and Siemens have all come forward as potentially interested parties in the tender, although local vendors like ZTE and Huawei are also thought to be interested.
Earlier this month, the country's two fixed line operators, China Telecom and China Netcom, signed a 'no competition' agreement, to reduce the duplication of infrastructure ahead of 3G rollout.
The move follows strong rumours that China Unicom, the country's smaller mobile operator, may be broken up. Unicom's GSM operation is expected to go to Netcom, with the cellco's CDMA network being either bought or leased by China Telecom.
China Telecom, the larger of the two companies, operates a fixed line network in the central and southern provinces, while Netcom operates in the north.
Netcom would likely get a WCDMA licence and Telecom would get a cdma2000 licence, when China allocates 3G spectrum.