Authorities in China plan to commence the second round of field tests involving 3G mobile communications systems in order to help decide when and how to award operators with 3G licenses.

A shortage of 3G phones and the sluggish development of a Chinese home-grown 3G standard is casting uncertainties on the allocation of the 3G licenses.

The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) will start field tests of WCDMA systems at the end of March, said Wang Zhiqin, deputy director of the Institute of Communication Standards Research at MII's China Academy of Telecommunication Research. Trials on CDMA 2000 will begin in April, followed by TD-SCDMA tests in May, she said. Wang, a key figure involved in the trials, said the inadequacy of 3G phones remains the biggest bottleneck in 3G's development. There are no commercial CDMA 2000 phones yet–manufacturers have had to specially tailor some phones for the trials–and TD-SCDMA cellphones will not be ready for testing until the middle of this year.

Manufacturers have yet to produce a TD-SCDMA phone for the tests, as the development of the Chinese standard lags far behind its rivals. It also lacks wide industry support. Institute officials said TD-SCDMA phones will be produced in small scale this year, and in large scale next year, but industry insiders said the phones are still far from the "real" TD-SCDMA phones.


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