The saga of China's 3G licenses has been dragging on for way too long. Now, when it looks like it might be nearing an end, a Chinese minister pops up to say that the government won't force operators to use particular 3G technologies (via MocoNews) as a condition of the licenses it hands out. This is a particularly odd statement, given the government's obvious bias towards the homegrown TD-SCDMA standard -- the apparently unreadiness of which was to blame for much of the delay. At this point, it really would make no sense for the government to not force at least one operator to use TD-SCDMA, since it seems awfully unlikely that any of them would choose it over CDMA EV-DO or WCDMA. The biggest benefit of those technologies (outside of their established track record in the market) is the economies of scale they can offer, both in network equipment and handsets. TD-SCDMA won't be able to compete in that regard -- unless, of course, rather than mandating operators use it, the government simply offers some sort of incentive (like massive subsidies) instead. Then there's always the possibility that the government saying it won't mandate particular technologies may mean one thing to them, and something completely different to everybody else.
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