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China mobilizing on 3G IP

Posted: 03 Jan 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile multimedia technology? 3g? ip? wireline? wireless?

A group of influential Chinese companies and industry organizations has formed the Mobile Multimedia Technology Alliance to promote Chinese-driven technical innovation and standards and to popularize 3G applications. It's yet another sign that China is sharply focused on bootstrapping its domestic companies to the level of international rivals.

MMTA will be one to watch, since the founders have a rich pedigree. The participants range from the country's top IT policy maker, the Ministry of Information Industry, to semiconductor house Vimicro Corp. and domestic telecom gear providers Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp. All four of China's main wireline and wireless operators are also on board.

MMTA is also open to international companies and standards organizations. The group is positioning itself as a vehicle for domestic and international cooperation, with the aim of further weaning China from its reliance on IP from foreign companies by strengthening the technical capabilities and cooperation of domestic firms.

"The competition of intellectual property" will be the dominant business struggle, said Zhang Hui, MMTA vice president and secretary general. "The application of 3G is the best point for China's information industry to break through with intellectual property."

China is the world's largest market for cell phones, with more than 250 million subscribers. It has not rolled out 3G services yet, but many of its companies have embarked on R&D for terminals and infrastructure. China is also co-developing a domestic standard, known as TD-SCDMA, with Siemens AG.

In 2G technology, many of China's domestic cell phone manufacturers have moved quickly to capture market share. Today, they control about 50 percent of the market-mostly low-end terminals.

Some observers believe Chinese suppliers will lose ground when 3G eventually rolls out in China, as foreign companies leverage their greater R&D investments to win back market share, especially in the high-end, high-margin segments.

Still, MMTA is another sign that Chinese companies are determined to sharpen their skills. The challenge will be to move beyond the inspirational speeches of MMTA's inaugural event at the Great Hall of the People, just off Tiananmen Square.

- Mike Clendenin

EE Times

Mike Clendenin is EE Times' Taiwan Bureau Chief

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