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Nokia will begin selling phones based on China’s TD-SCDMA technology next year, according to local press reports.

The world’s largest mobile phone maker expects to have handsets available during the first half of 2008.

TD-SCDMA is China’s home-developed 3G standard. The government has strongly backed the standard in an attempt to reduce China’s reliance on expensive foreign technology.

However, the rollout of 3G phones in the country has been delayed for years while bugs in TD-SCDMA are ironed out.

Although 3G networks have still not been officially launched in China, the market for TD-SCDMA equipment reached $910m in the first quarter of 2007, according to research firm Analysys International.

The spending is believed to be almost entirely devoted to infrastructure, as 3G handsets are not yet on sale.

Local firms ZTE and Datang are leading TD-SCDMA sales with 46.3 per cent and 26.8 per cent of the market respectively.

TD Tech, a joint venture between China’s largest mobile manufacturer, Huawei, and Europe’s Nokia and Siemens took only 14.8 per cent.

The hardware sales reflect the actions of the world’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile, which recently doled out TD-SCDMA infrastructure contracts for six major cities, including Beijing and Tianjin, which both have populations over 10 million.

These 3G networks, despite their size, remain off limits to the general public as the government has yet to grant 3G licences.

Trial networks based on the foreign W-CDMA and CDMA2000 3G standards were established last year, and are still awaiting government approval to start public operation.

In related news, Nokia has announced the establishment of a research facility at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University.

“In some ways, the future of mobile technology is the future of all technology in China,” said Professor Niu Zhisheng of Tsinghua University.

“The country has set itself the goal of developing indigenous innovation and, with four times as many mobile subscribers as internet users, the opportunities within mobile technology are clear.

“In addition, a world class communications network is essential to breakthroughs in all areas of science and technology research, rendering mobile technology doubly important.”


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