China's Ministry of Information Industry approved on Wednesday the use of European and American standards for 3G mobile phones, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported today.
The European WCDMA and American CDMA2000 join the previously approved Chinese TD-SCDMA standard as legal options for China's nascent 3G industry, with the government promising deployment in time for next year's Beijing Olympics. All four major Chinese operators — China Netcom, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom — have said they are investing in 3G.
"We will let operators choose which standard they want to use. But the government will decide how many 3G licences are issued," said Xi Guohua, vice minister of information industry, according to Xinhua.
No 3G licences have been awarded as yet. Although TD-SCDMA had been approved in 2006, global manufacturers have been reluctant to produce handsets for the standard, with only Samsung and Motorola developing products.
Last year, China failed in an attempt to get international acceptance for its locally developed WAPI wireless encryption standards, leading to accusations of conspiracy and unethical behaviour within the IEEE standardisation committee, and counter-claims that details of WAPI had been kept secret from standards organisations.