Thursday, 8 October 2009

TD-SCDMA Politics!


I posted sometime back about China Mobile standards ready to battle the 3G standards. I read this interesting piece in The IET Magazine:

The wait is over for millions of Chinese mobile phone users. Following several years of delays, the government has finally issued the licences that were necessary for the introduction of third-generation cellular services in the country.

As ordered by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, each of the nation’s three main operators will have to build and operate a network based on one of the three different standards that were vying for a share of the world’s largest cellular market.

China Mobile (by far the dominant carrier with over 460 million subscribers) will operate on TD-SCDMA, the 3G technology that was developed entirely in the People’s Republic by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology in collaboration with Datang and Siemens. China Telecom will run on W-CDMA, while China Unicom gets CDMA2000.

Considering how immature TD-SCDMA technology still is - and how discouraging its build-up trials have proved - China Mobile seems to have landed the worst possible deal.

Then again, that was the whole idea of this so-called reorganisation of the country’s telecoms industry. Let the incumbent cellco work on the many problems that will have to be ironed out before TD-SCDMA can be considered a credible 3G alternative, and that should give the two smaller operators enough time to catch up by taking advantage of proven technologies and an established pool of equipment suppliers.

The Chinese government wants a more balanced, more competitive telecoms market, and this should help do the trick. But the move is also likely to have some strange consequences in the relationship between mobile operators and phone makers.

China Mobile faces two different handset-related challenges when it comes to 3G. The first one is qualitative: existing TD-SCDMA phones are technically inferior to those that subscribers have been using in the rest of the world for well over eight years now. The second is quantitative: only 40 or so TD-SCDMA models exist, while China Mobile says it will need several hundred.

So the company is resorting to some unprecedented behaviour for a cellular operator. At the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Wang Jianzhou, the chairman of China Mobile, met with a group of handset vendors (including Nokia, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and some of the Chinese manufacturers) and offered to pay them part of the R&D costs of developing better TD-SCDMA products.

Handset makers have rarely witnessed such generous attitudes from an operator. Even rarer is the fact that the offer is coming from what is now the world’s largest operator. Add to that the unfavourable financial conditions most of these OEMs are enduring and you could safely assume they’ll go and see what they can do to help China Mobile.

You can also read about what TD-SCDMA is here. More about the current status of TD-SCDMA here.

4 comments:

Gustav Holst said...

You know you have a problem when you need to pay people to make your devices! Gee, it's nice to know that the government cares so much about China Telecom and China Unicom...but what about poor China Mobile customers?

I have a question about MIMO. You say that SU-MIMO (2x2) is mandatory on the LTE downlink, but I don't see anywhere in the standards that says it is. Am I missing something?

Thanks again :)

Zahid Ghadialy said...

Hi Gustav,

TD-SCDMA has its uses and it can be useful in situations where spectrum is tight. Japan has its own technologies for Mobile, Mobile TV, etc but they are not all bad. Western manufacturers are not too interested in them because they are not sure of success. The same problem exists in China.

You have to remember that even with GSM people have made data services to work so TD-SCDMA will definitely be better.

Regarding the MIMO thing, it would be difficult for me to point you to a reference. Why dont you try the whitepaper from 3G Americas. See here .

Qin said...

Got mistake....
China Unicom use WCDMA;
China Telecom use CDMA2000, EV-DO rev. A(testing rev. B internally)

Qin said...

TD-SCDMA highest speed is 2.8Mb/s only...very low compare to WCDMA and CDMA