[china daily] The Chinese government has set a target of achieving more than 50 million third-generation (3G) mobile users by the end of 2011 for its homegrown telecommunication standard, but analysts predict the technology may not be the biggest winner in the 3G era.
Zhao Bo, deputy director of the electronics and information department with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said on Wednesday that China should continue to push forward its TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) 3G technology.
"The TD-SCDMA technology should realize its strategic target of acquiring at least one-third of China's market, and grab 50 million users by the end of this year," Zhao said.
He said he is confident that China Mobile Ltd, the world's biggest telecom carrier by users, will achieve the goal within the schedule.
China Mobile is building the TD-SCDMA 3G network in China, while its domestic rivals, China Unicom Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd, adopted the WCDMA and CDMA2000 3G technologies.
Ye Lin, an official from the technology department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said since the three Chinese telecom operators obtained 3G licenses in early 2009, China has made major progress in 3G network development.
The three carriers have invested a total of 289 billion yuan ($44.6 billion) in 3G network construction in the past three years, Ye said. More than 697,000 3G base stations have been set up in the same period, he added.
The ministry recently announced that the number of 3G users in China reached 67.6 million by April.
China Mobile topped the list with 29.4 million, and China Unicom followed with 20.4 million. The smallest telecom carrier, China Telecom, had 17.8 million by April.
Though China Mobile remains No 1 in terms of customer numbers, industry analysts pointed out it has been facing severe challenges from its rivals.
Wang Jinjin, the Asian telecom research head of UBS AG, wrote in a research note that a better ecosystem may be the most important factor in determining who will win in the telecom industry.
"The WCDMA technology has advantages over the other two 3G technologies, because it has a global customer base, and strong support from chip and phone makers. In addition, buyers have more choices of cell phones within every price range," Wang said.
Goal for domestic 3G network set at 50m users