Report: China Telecom calls for decision on 3G licenses

China’s largest fixed-line telecommunications operator, China Telecommunications Corp. (China Telecom), wants the Chinese government to end years of waiting and move forward with plans to issue third-generation (3G) mobile licenses, according to the official China Daily newspaper.

“It’s time (for the government) to make up its mind on 3G policies,” said Ye Lisheng, vice dean of China Telecom’s Beijing Research Institute, quoted in the China Daily report.

“If we keep waiting for TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), it may be harmful to the development of 3G (in China),” Ye said, according to China Daily.

TD-SCDMA is a 3G technology that has largely been developed in China. But the technology’s development has lagged behind rival 3G standards W-CDMA (Wideband CDMA) and CDMA2000, which have already been deployed in commercial 3G networks in other countries, including South Korea and Japan.

The slower development of TD-SCDMA is widely seen as one reason why the Chinese government has not yet announced how many 3G licenses it plans to issue or when the licenses will be issued. However, China has long been expected to issue one license for a 3G network based on TD-SCDMA technology.

“It’s pretty apparent that all three (3G) technologies will be represented,” said Davina Yeo, associate director of networking and wireless research at IDC Asia-Pacific, in a recent interview.

China currently has two cellular operators, China Mobile Communications Corp. (China Mobile) and China United Telecommunications Corp. (China Unicom). The country’s two fixed-line operators, China Telecom and China Network Communications Group Corp. (China Netcom), do not have licenses to offer cellular services and have long wanted the rights to tap into China’s growing demand for mobile services.

The Chinese government will likely issue 3G licenses during the fourth quarter of this year, Yeo said, adding that recent signs indicate the government will likely issue three licenses. Previously, some signs had hinted the country might issue four licenses.