Device ecosystem crucial to TD-SCDMA growth

Symbian's recent vote of support for TD-SCDMA is expected to boost the Chinese 3G standard, but real growth will come after 2012, says analyst.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

TD-SCDMA's growth will rely on the expansion of its device ecosystem, says an industry watcher, who adds that the recent vote of support from Symbian will also provide a boost for the 3G platform.

China-based In-Stat analyst, Ashley Liu, said China Mobile must focus on attracting users to the homegrown Chinese 3G standard with compatible devices, in order to drive adoption.

Liu pointed to the carrier's recent efforts in promoting TD-capable netbooks and e-books embedded with TD data cards, as indication of the company's efforts to broaden its device ecosystem.

TD-SCDMA was developed as an alternative to other 3G standards. The Chinese government awarded the TD-SCDMA license to China Mobile, the country's mobile operator, while the CDMA2000 license was distributed to China Telecom and WCDMA to China Unicom.

The Symbian Foundation recently joined forces with China Mobile to promote the development of Symbian apps on the operator's app store.

This is hoped to promote the uptake of TD-SCDMA, said China Mobile, in a statement.

Liu told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview, however, that the carrier's 3G network is not likely to win significant subscriber numbers until it readies its 4G TD-LTE upgrade in 2012.

TD-SCDMA is "less competitive" than the other standards, she said.

"WCDMA and CDMA2000 are mature 3G networks with long [histories] of development in countries overseas, so Chinese operators have more operation experiences they can learn from," she noted.

Nathan Burley, an analyst with Ovum, said in an e-mail interview that TD-SCDMA connections are forecast to reach 62 million by end-2011. While this represents less than 7 percent of the China market, it is "still significant", he said.

Ovum said in January that TD-SCDMA, despite its rocky start, will eventually win majority market share in China over CDMA2000 and WCDMA. According to Ovum, China Mobile's 70 percent share of the country's mobile market and extensive government backing for the standard would assure the platform's dominance.

According to online reports, China Unicom recently ordered 2 million 3G terminals, to be launched in China, to serve the 10 million WCDMA-compatible mobile phones in the country.

TD-SCDMA and CDMA2000 users with China Mobile and China Telecom numbered 959,000 and 1.3 million by the end of last quarter, respectively, according to the operators.

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