China launched the first trials of a home-grown 4G (fourth-generation) mobile communications network in a district of Shanghai on Sunday, despite the fact it hasn't even decided on standards for 3G (third-generation) services, the Web site of the state-run China Daily reported.
The field test in Shanghai's Changning District will cost about 150 million Chinese renminbi (AUD$25 million) by the time it's completed and marks an important step for China. It will be the final trial of a system made in China and fulfills a goal of developing technology at home to meet the needs of Chinese users.
The group of 10 Chinese institutions involved in the 4G project have obtained more than 200 patents for the system since starting research in 2001, and some of its fundamental technologies have been adopted by international standards organizations, the China Daily said, without naming the organizations.
The goal has been to put the 4G system into trial commercial use between 2006 and 2010.
The 4G system was designed to transmit data and images wirelessly at speeds as fast as landline optical fiber, the China Daily said. Research on the 4G system, called the FuTURE Project, short for Future Technology for Universal Radio Environment, was started as part of China's national high-tech initiative.
China hasn't yet released a timetable for the rollout of 3G mobile networks, nor said how many licenses it will issue. Chinese officials have said they want 3G services up and running in time for the 2008 Olympic Games, to be held in Beijing.
One issue surrounding the opening of 3G services in China has been the selection of the technology or technologies to be used. Many Chinese officials favor a home-grown standard, TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), but a TD-SDCMA rollout could prove slow because of a lack of support from equipment and handset manufacturers.