Vendors Split on TD-SCDMA

The Chinese government's plans to deploy Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) as a commercial 3G technology appear to have split vendor interest in the nascent standard.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology, TD-SCDMA has been approved by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and combines older Time-Division Multiple Access (TDMA) with Time-Division Duplexing (TDD) techniques 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 this new technology over established rival 3G standards such as wideband-CDMA and CDMA2000 (see W-CDMA: China's No. 1 Son? and Chinese 3G: Open to All?). To date, all six carriers trialing third-generation networks in the region have tested the nascent TD-SCDMA flavor, and the technology is expected to play some role in the eventual award of 3G licenses once early teething problems have been resolved (see Global Vendors to Rule China? and Chinese 3G Faces Further Delay).

Despite the government’s best efforts, however, it seems that Western network vendors have mixed views on the technology.

Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) appear to be the most bullish, with both companies having announced pairings with Chinese players. The Gallic incumbent last week struck a partnership deal with Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group, while German vendor Siemens has teamed with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. (see Alcatel Tangos With Datang and Siemens, Huawei Sign JV ).

In an email note to Unstrung this week, Canadian vendor Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) also confirmed that it “is still working with Datang” following an initial testing partnership announced in September last year (see Nortel, Datang Open 3G Lab).

In contrast, Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) are yet to announce any major plans for TD-SCDMA development and seem less than eager to join the partnership bandwagon.

“We are actively following it, but our general view is that it isn’t as far advanced as technologies evolved over a longer period of time, and we see it as primarily being a complementary technology to W-CDMA rather than a replacement technology,” says Nokia’s communications director, Thomas Jönsson.

A company statement from Lucent notes that “we continue to closely monitor the market development of TD-SCDMA and will determine if/when it makes business and financial sense to further invest in this technology.”

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) and Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) have also kept low profiles, with no market strategy announced. A Motorola spokeswoman insists that the vendor “is actively involved in the standard,” but could not provide specific details. Ericsson was unable to provide comment by press time.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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