With China's long-delayed third-generation (3G) mobile telephone
standard still not ready for commercial launch, now perhaps is not the
best time to unveil its successor technology called, unsurprisingly, 4G.

Nevertheless, China has apparently begun trials
of the blazing-fast new standard capable of data speeds of up to 100
Mbps, or at least 10 times faster than most fixed-line broadband
services such as DSL or cable and hundreds of times faster than today's
3G wireless networks.

The official Peoples' Daily newspaper reported that the trial had
been launched in Shanghai's Changning district at a cost of 150m yuan
following a field trial conducted in October. The system was reported
to provide data throughput of 100Mbps but no technical details were

Some observers speculate that China may ditch its much-delayed 3G
standard and leapfrog straight to 4G. But that is not very likely, if
only because China needs an advanced wireless data services up network
up and running in time for the Olympics next year. China's 4G may work
well in a lab or a testbed, but it it is even less ready for real-life
deployment than China's 3G standard, TD-SCDMA.

China started research on 4G wireless technologies back in 2001
under the label Future Technology for Universal Radio Environment, or
FuTURE Project, which is part of China's national hi-tech development

As was the case with TD-SCDMA, the country's political leaders are
keen to promote a home-grown 4G standard — possibly in collaboration
with other Asian countries — and so avoid having to pay hefty
royalties to western equipment manufacturers.

Back in 2005, China and Japan announced they would join forces to develop a 4G standard.

The aim of the project is to have a trial commercial 4G network operating some time before 2010.

Based on the country's track record with 3G, don't hold your breath.

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