China to Lead World in Wireless, Survey Predicts

HONG KONG (07/31/2000) - Investment in key elements of mobile networks in China will surge ahead of that in the U.S. by 2004, research company Forward Concepts Co. predicts in a report announced this week.

Worldwide capital investment in base station and mobile switching system electronic equipment will grow at a compound annual rate of 16 percent by 2005, to US$122 billion from $58 billion today. By 2004, China will be the biggest market for investment in base stations and switches, Forward Concepts said in a statement summarizing findings of the study.

There will be 1.7 billion mobile users by 2005, growing at an average of 23 percent per year from today's 611 million, according to the report.

At the same time, emerging packet-based technologies such as 2.5G (enhanced second-generation) and 3G (third-generation) cellular will encourage mobile-device owners to use them more often, leading to 45 percent annual growth in demand for network capacity.

A shift to more software-based handsets and infrastructure, using an emerging technology called SDR (Software-Defined Radio), will allow users to roam anywhere in the world with one handset and network operators to more easily migrate from 2.5G to 3G.

Countries with less wireline Internet infrastructure, such as China, will lead 3G deployments, Forward Concepts predicts.

Last week, Nokia Corp. announced another addition to China's burgeoning wireless networks. The company will build a GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) 1800 network for Zhejiang Mobile Communications Co. Ltd. The deal is valued at approximately $60 million and includes network equipment, management software, and professional services, according to Nokia.

The operator, in coastal Zhejiang province near Shanghai, today serves 3.8 million subscribers with a Nokia GSM 900 network. The additional network will improve capacity and coverage, Nokia said. Dual-band GSM handsets will be able to automatically switch between the networks.

Forward Concepts, in Tempe, Arizona, can be reached at +1-480-968-3759 or via the Web at Nokia, in Espoo, Finland, can be reached at +358-10-5051 or via the Web at