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Trio Hush on Chinese 3G

Light Reading
LR Mobile News Analysis
Light Reading
5/27/2005

Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) are the only major Western vendors yet to announce a Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) infrastructure market strategy, with UTStarcom Inc. (Nasdaq: UTSI) touted as one of the few remaining high-profile partners for the trio.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology, TD-SCDMA has been approved by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and combines older TDMA with the Time-Division Duplexing (TDD) technique of broadcasting over a single chunk of spectrum, rather than the normal two bands (see TD-SCDMA Forum Joins 3GPP).

The Chinese government has been eagerly touting the benefits of TD-SCDMA, and the technology is tipped to feature in the award of 3G licenses, due later this year (see China Preps for TD-SCDMA).

Ericsson last week announced it has teamed with local supplier ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) on development of the technology, while Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) has partnered with China Putian. Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) has linked with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., and Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) has announced a similar deal with Datang Telecom Technology Co. Ltd. (See Ericsson Bets on Chinese 3G, Nortel Teams on Chinese 3G, Huawei, Siemens Push 3G Deal, and Alcatel Tangos With Datang.)

Although Lucent, Motorola, and Nokia have joined the TD-SCDMA Forum, they have made no firm commitment to develop TD-SCDMA infrastructure. “Of the major wireless infrastructure vendors, these three remain conspicuously absent in their support for the Chinese 3G technology,” notes Peter Jarich of Current Analysis.

All three companies appear reluctant to announce detailed future plans.

“We have been actively supporting the TD-SCDMA standards efforts in China to provide contributions where we can leverage our spread spectrum and time division technical expertise,” writes a Lucent spokesman in an email to Unstrung. “We continue to closely monitor the market development of TD-SCDMA, and are exploring various options for developing TD-SCDMA, however we don't have any specific plans to announce at this time.”

Motorola was unable to provide comment by press time, but last November insisted it is “actively involved in the standard.” (See Vendors Split on TD-SCDMA.)

Nokia is slightly more effusive, but still won't reveal a specific infrastructure market strategy. “Nokia is participating in the development of TD-SCDMA technology and is also working on interoperability between WCDMA and TD-SCDMA,” comments a spokeswoman. “Nokia has also invested in Commit, a consortium of companies working together to develop a TD-SCDMA handset chipset. We are following the situation with the Chinese 3G licences closely all the time.”

Meanwhile UTStarcom, in light of its Chinese market experience, is likely to be in demand as a potential infrastructure partner. “Now that Ericsson has teamed up with ZTE, UTStarcom remains one of the potential remaining TD-SCDMA partners for established 3G vendors,” adds Current Analysis’s Jarich.

UTStarcom was unavailable for comment at press time.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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