no launch date for China's long-delayed 3G mobile telecoms services,
although a local news report this weekend provides some hope for
suppliers — foreign and Chinese — waiting for the promised bonanza of
orders for handsets and network equipment.

China Daily quotes an official from the
National Development and Reform Commission as saying that China will
observe its commitment to provide 3G service in cities where the
Olympic games will be held in 2008.

The Olympic games have long been promoted as
China's big chance to present a modern hi-tech image to the outside
world. A 3G network is seen as key to that goal as visitors from the
west and neighbouring Asian countries who take 3G for granted back home
will expect to be able to access 3G services in Beijing and other
Olympic cities.

However, unless they buy a new phone, they
are likely to be in for a shock. China will almost certainly give
priority to its own TD-SCDMA standard, which is not compatible with the
WCDMA or CDMA2000 standards used elsewhere.

Local media last
week reported that some 20,000 mobile phones built for the home-grown
TD-SCDMA standard will be released starting from this week in the three
main trial areas of Qingdao, Qinhuangdao and Baoding. both in Hebei

To stand a realistic chance of getting
commercial 3G services up and running in the Olympics cities, the
government needs to award licences before the end of this year, experts

The telecoms industry has been waiting for over three years for the licences to be awarded.

More in this EngagingChina post.

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