China Unicom Itching To Launch 3G... If Only There Were Licenses
By Mike Masnick, Wed May 18 00:45:00 GMT 2005

The 3G saga in China continues. While China continues to delay handing out licenses, China Unicom says it could launch EV-DO in five months.


While other Asian nations are rushing ahead to roll out 3G and beyond mobile data services, China has been the clear slowpoke, taking its time. There are a few different theories why -- and they all might be right to some extent. China's desire to use its own separate standard for 3G is one major stumbling block, considering the technology hasn't been shown to perform. With that in mind, many believe that China is delaying handing out 3G licenses until TD-SCDMA technology is viable.

However, Chinese mobile operators aren't as interested in waiting around. For years, there have been stories about impatient mobile operators testing other 3G technologies and now China Unicom has made it pretty clear that it's gone pretty far down the path. While no one can launch service without the licenses, Unicom's executive director is claiming that it could launch nationwide EV-DO service in just five months. Considering the time frames it's taking operators in the US to upgrade to EV-DO, it seems pretty clear that China Unicom has been very active in getting its equipment ready should the licenses ever go out. Of course, EV-DO isn't TD-SCDMA, meaning that even if TD-SCDMA proves to be feasible, the first 3G networks in China are likely to be anything but TD-SCDMA.

Meanwhile, in another (either oddly worded, or maybe just oddly translated) article about 3G in China, it's noted that China Unicom might just focus on using Wi-Fi to fill the gaps to provide higher speed wireless data service. Of course, the article suggests this is because 3G service isn't really necessary, not because the government still refuses to hand out licenses.

Either way, what becomes clear is that mobile operators in China are getting more impatient about the lack of licenses, and are starting to make moves and statements that indicate they're getting a bit fidgety waiting around for the government to make the 3G move.