has long since given up trying to predict when China might finally
launch long-delayed third generation mobile telecoms services. But its
revealing that a leading light in China's mobile industry is equally in
the dark.

In an interview
with the Financial Times, Shi Jixing, vice-chairman of the China Mobile
Communications Association, said officials had failed to set a unified
policy on 3G, while routinely interfering in operators' strategic

He went on to tell the pink 'un that Beijing was missing an
opportunity for 3G networks to become a “telecoms powerhouse.” I'm not
so sure about the last statement.

After all, vendors such as Huawei and ZTE are already well known —
and increasingly feared — in the 3G industry. For example, ZTE last
month announced a contract win
with Spain's Movistar to supply it with 3G phones boasting “the latest
technology and features at a highly competitive price. ” The
opportunity has been grasped not missed, we would argue.

China's fledgling TD-SCDMA standard, which is likely to be favoured
when 3G licences are finally awarded, is unlikely to find much
application outside of China — and manufacturers like ZTE know it.

Nevertheless, the desire to give TD-SCDMA's Chinese developers more
time to make it work is seen as the main reason for delaying the
introduction of 3G in China, which already has more than 400m mobile
phone subscribers and adds millions more each month.

Mr Shi, the former head of a big telecoms equipment manufacturer,
criticised this interference in the business of state-owned operators
that did not want TD-SCDMA.

As the FT notes, it has all been said before, but such direct and
trenchant criticism of China's policymakers from an industry insider is
rare — and reveals the extent of the industry's frustration.

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