Alcatel, Siemens remain hopeful in China

Alcatel SA has launched a small 3G (third-generation) mobile broadband network in Shanghai, China, to develop and test new applications and services in the world's largest mobile market, the company announced Thursday in a statement.

The Paris telecommunication equipment manufacturer has opened a "3G Reality Center" in Shanghai, with plans to open additional test networks in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. The Asian rollout follows the launch of several 3G test networks in Europe.

The goal of the test networks, according to Alcatel, is to foster the development of local content and applications by bringing together companies that supply content, middleware, billing systems and other mobile data applications. Companies already participating in the Shanghai center include Japan's Fujitsu Ltd. and China's Intrinsic Technology Ltd.

"The entire idea behind the center is for companies to test new services on a real, live network," an Alcatel spokesman said.

The Shanghai network offers voice communications in circuit-switched mode and data and high-speed video in packet-switched mode. The packet-based technology supports, among other applications, Web browsing, file transfer, video casting, gaming, video streaming and video-on-demand (VOD).

Earlier in the week, Germany newspaper Financial Times Deutschland claimed rival Siemens AG had won a 3G contract from the Chinese government. A company spokeswoman declined to comment on the report, saying only that the Munich-based equipment manufacturer already is suppling technology for three test networks in the country.

Siemens is also hopeful of carving out a chunk of China's 3G market, once the Chinese government specifies criteria for the technology. Government authorities have yet to announce any 3G licenses or select one or more competing technologies.

For the Chinese 3G tests, the German manufacturer is supplying technology based on the TD-SCDMA (Time-Division - Synchronous Code-Division Multiple Access) specification approved by International Telecommunication Union (ITU). Although the Chinese government has already given its support to TD-SCDMA, it has yet to commit itself to any one standard.

Siemens will be able to supply TD-SCDMA technology for commercial deployment by the end of 2002, the company spokeswoman said.

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