Wednesday, December 17, 2008

China confirms 3G license awards timetable

China has finally confirmed it will award 3G licenses to the country's three mobile operators early next year according to the Financial Times. Li Yizhong, China's minister for Industry and Information Technology, confirmed that market-leader China Mobile will receive a license based on TD-SCDMA, the country's homegrown 3G standard, second-placed China Unicom will receive a WCDMA license, and new mobile player China Telecom will be given a 3G license using CDMA2000 1xEV-DO technology. 

The licenses which will be awarded will surely billion of dollars in investments from the three operators and help stimulate the Chinese economy.  

The three operators had also reached an agreement on infrastructure sharing. The frame agreement is to be followed by provincial level agreements for leasing radio and core networks and sharing the cost of new network construction. The network-sharing policy to enforce so-called 'asymmetric regulation' was designed to allow China Unicom and China Telecom to compete more effectively with China Mobile, which currently controls around 70 percent of the market. 

According to the FT, the three operators have budgeted CNY297 billion (US$43.4 billion) in 3G-related capex over the next three years. The report noted that China Mobile was set to account for the biggest share of total investments with local equipment vendors such as Huawei and ZTE likely to secure the majority of the contracts. 

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