By Hu Hongjun
What will you think of when referring to cell phones? A great number of foreign brands like Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, etc. or something else? Probably, you would say, "I am using a domestically produced cell phone!" Even so, most cell phones manufactured by domestic manufacturers in the past were enslaved to overseas enterprises in terms of patents and core chips, etc.
Such a situation does not only occurs in the cell phone industry but also prevails in the whole industry of mobile telecommunications. One of the important reasons is that we failed to participate the development of the standards for the first and second generations of mobile telecommunications; it is natural for us to be enslaved since we did not have our independent standards.
Then, will such a status continue in the impending era of 3G mobile telecommunications? The answer is concise: No! as we have developed TD-SCDMA, an international 3G standard with the independent intelligent property rights in our hands while major breakthroughs are being made in the course of industrialization.
Mr. Tang Ru'an has been much occupied. As the vice president of Datang Telecom Technology Co., Ltd. (DTT) and the bellwether of the Datang Mobile Communications Equipment Co., Ltd., he has been rushing about outside recently to take part in relevant tests on TD-SCDMA systems and terminals conducted in various places. As a part in the industrial chain of TD-SCDMA, his busyness just reflects the hot situation for the industrialization of the 3G international standard, the independent intelligent property rights of which fall into the control of China, at present. Mr. Tang told the reporter that up till then, TD-SCDMA is gradually entering into a phase of pilot commercial use with such key jobs as standard consummation, technological validation, network testing, and the development of commercial products having been completed with ease.
In the meantime, Mr. Xi Guohua, a vice minister from the Ministry of Information Industry, expressed in December 2005 that it was the time for China to make a decision on the issuance of 3G licenses. As important technological breakthroughs have been made with TD-SCDMA and both core technologies and the industrial chain concerning this standard have come into being, it will show up in China's overall 3G arrangements.
As a result, China's independent 3G standard will enjoy a spring for its development in 2006.
As to TD-SCDMA, Mr. Houlin Zhao, Director of the International Telecommunications Union's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau(ITU/TSB), noted that it was the first complete international standard for telecommunications system in China's history. It can be said that it is a zero breakthrough in China's communications history.
With the domestic information and communication industry's accumulation of technologies and talents for many years, China proposed its first proposal on the TD-SCDMA standard for the 3G communications to the ITU in 1999. The standard proposed was adopted to be one of the three mainstream 3G standards (with the other two being WCDMA proposed by Europe and the CDMA2000 that the USA proposed) due to the advantages of the new standard.
Experts point out that once China's 3G Standard with independent intellectual property rights is used for commercial purposes, domestic enterprises will benefit from it so that they would not have to pay patent royalties incessantly to such communications companies holding telecommunications standards as Goldman Sachs as they did during the 2G Era in the 3G Era; or, the patent royalties claimed by such standard holders would be greatly decreased. What is more important is that TD-SCDMA will offer opportunities for domestic enterprises to take part in the development of standards, systems, terminals, chips, testing instruments, which are all based on the standard as well as all even more downstream parts along the industrial chain including business development and content provision, thus driving China’s industry of mobile telecommunications industry to realize its initiative transformation from follow-up to innovation in terms of technical development and step onto the road of independent innovation.
Mr. Tang said frankly that it was sure that DTT itself was "insufficiently strong" to achieve such an ambitious goal, "the important breakthrough made in the industrialization of TD-SCDMA at present is based on the strength of the collective body." The "collective body" that Mr. Tang referred to is the "TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance".
Early as in 1998, DTT adopted a mode of opening-up to the outside and positive cooperation and established its strategic cooperation with Siemens so as to jointly research and develop equipment and terminal products relevant to TD-SCDMA.
In October 2002, the "TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance" that eight enterprises including DTT, Huawei, Lenovo (then Legend), ZTE, etc. took the lead to shape up was formally set up, which is the first time for China's international 3G standard to receive the responses of the industrial circles as a whole. In October 2004, the TD-SCDMA industrial clusters with Chinese enterprises as the principal part struck a pose collectively for the first time to demonstrate a whole set of TD-SCDMA solutions from the systematic equipment to the cell phone terminals, which marked the preliminary formation of a complete TD-SCDMA industrial chain.
Led by the first batch of eight enterprises, the "TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance" got expanded time after time. In December 2003, Hisense, Commit and Xi’an Haitian Antenna joined in; in April 2005, seven enterprises including UT Starcom, Alcatel Shanghai Bell, Hubei Zhongyou Technology IND.& COMM. CO., LTD., Shanghai DBTEL, Inventec, Tongyu Communication Equipment Co., Ltd., and Beijing Zhongchuang Telecom Test Co., Ltd. formally joined the "TD-SCDMA Industry Alliance". By then, the member enterprises of the Alliance amounted to over 20 and the member enterprises covered various parts along the TD-SCDMA industrial chain.
In order to drive the development of China's 3G standard, relevant authorities had offered supports with 3G frequency planning and special funds and arranged relevant tests so as to effectively drive the course of TD-SCDMA industrialization.
Driven by various parties as a whole, relevant TD-SCDMA products developed by domestic system and terminal manufacturers with Datang Mobile as the representative passed the test held by authoritative departments with ease in June 2005: "TD-SCDMA is fully provided with the capability to organize a large-scale independent network."
For the time being, TD-SCDMA has shaped up a large 3G industry that covers a system and its terminals, core networks and access network, chips and software, which involves over 40 telecommunications enterprises at home and abroad. And both the industrial chain and the industrial environment are becoming more mature and consummated.
Besides, driven by the independent standard, China's communication sector is realizing historic breakthroughs incessantly in technological innovations in the link of such matching industries as chips, testing instruments, semiconductor, and precision instruments.
For the moment, the commercial tests of TD-SCDMA are not really launched yet. Mr. Tang Ru'an believes that "Time and tide wait for no one" and that the independent 3G standard still needs a "final shooting". Mr. Houlin Zhao also reminds that TD-SCDMA is an international standard developed in China and it should make a stand in the China market first and then make for the outside world.