Lucent Takes IMS to China

One of the last major vendors yet to announce a 3G partner in China, Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) has bagged a deal with local vendor Datang Telecom Technology Co. Ltd. for TD-SCDMA, China's home-grown standard.

Lucent spokesman Ichiro Kawasaki says the agreement is limited to interoperability testing for now, and brings together Lucent's IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) core with Datang's radio access platform. Lucent has won several high-profile IMS contracts recently, including Cingular Wireless LLC, (NYSE: SBC), and (NYSE: BLS). (See Cingular Picks Lucent for IMS, SBC Picks Lucent IMS, and Lucent Lands BellSouth Deal.)

Testing is already underway and Lucent is exploring further options for getting involved in the market. "Lucent is definitely supportive of TD-SCDMA in China," says Kawasaki, adding that it's talking to various TD-SCDMA vendors about collaborations and looking into deployments.

For its part, Datang already has a partnership with Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) to provide equipment to carriers, but Alcatel doesn't think it will conflict with the Lucent agreement. (See Alcatel, Datang Prep TD-SCDMA.)

"Alcatel is pleased with the relationship with Datang for the TD-SCDMA standard," writes a company spokesperson in an email to Unstrung, "and we do not see any negative impact with their announcements involving other suppliers."

Lucent's news follows Nokia Corp.'s (NYSE: NOK) announcement that it is forming a joint venture with China Putian. That just leaves Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) without a date to the party. (See Nokia Invests in China 3G.)

The TD-SCDMA standard, which is competing with wideband CDMA and CDMA2000 as a 3G technology, has faced repeated setbacks in testing and is holding up the awarding of 3G licenses that were expected to be issued this year. (See Wireless Wumors.)

The Heavy Reading report, Telecom in China: Carrier Capex Trends, notes: "Owing to government support -- to protect domestic industry, it encourages carriers to use TD-SCDMA -- TD-SCDMA's commercialization was a key factor in postponing the granting of 3G licenses...

"The government was concerned that carriers would act quickly to replace TD-SCDMA with 3G products made primarily by foreign suppliers, such as Ericsson."

The Chinese government will likely begin issuing the eagerly anticipated licenses early next year, and industry scuttlebutt has it that TD-SCDMA will be one of the first awarded. China's Xinhua news agency recently quoted a Datang official as saying the standard is projected to capture a third of 3G market share.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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