China Telecom to become first operator to provide nationwide 3G services
China Telecom has started to upgrade its 2G CDMA2000 1x network in 342 cities to the 3G CDMA2000 1x EV-DO standard and plans to complete the project by the second quarter of 2009, which will make the operator the first to offer nationwide 3G services, a China Telecom official told Interfax on Dec. 26.
"In all cities, download speeds will be elevated to CDMA2000 1x EV-DO with downlink speeds of up to 1 megabit per second (Mbps), while over 80 major cities will be upgraded to support downlink speeds of up to 3 Mbps. Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan have already begun upgrade work. The upgrade can be done by software, with no equipment replacement needed," the official from China Telecom's network planning department, who asked not to be identified, said.
According to the official, China Telecom plans to invest RMB 80 billion ($11.7 billion) in its CDMA network over the next three years, including the RMB 27.9 billion ($4.1 billion) the company will expend in purchases from its first CDMA network equipment tender held in July. ZTE, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Nortel and Samsung all won shares in the tender.
"Nationwide coverage for the 2G CDMA2000 1x network has been achieved. The current network can carry 70 million CDMA users. However, our goal is to have 100 million CDMA users by the end of 2009, which is why we have begun a nationwide capacity and speed upgrade. When complete, China Telecom will have the capability to provide nationwide 3G services," the official said.
If 3G services are launched soon after the upgrade is completed, it will make China Telecom the first Chinese operator to provide 3G services. China Mobile announced on Aug. 27, 2008 that it will not be able to provide commercial 3G services in the first 28 cities in which it has established TD-SCDMA trial networks before the end of June 2009, while Chang Xiaobing, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of China Unicom, said on Aug. 25, 2008 that China Unicom hoped to provide 3G services in the third quarter of 2009.
"Having launched our "Esurfing" CDMA brand nationally, our focus for 2009 will be on mobile Internet and FMC (Fixed Mobile Convergence) services. We will soon allocate our budget for promoting 3G to consumers," the official said.
On Dec. 12, 2008, Li Yizhong, Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that 3G licenses will be issued around the beginning of 2009.