Message Board Thread re China Mobile announcing support for Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G protocol and forthcoming iPhone launch in China.
[idannyb reply] Re: Maybe there never will be a 3G phone….
<< An iPhone launch in China in “early 09” would be another example of Apple’s failed international rollout. Very disappointing!!!!!!
(name withheld) >>
(To: name withheld) … It is just my guess that China will come in late 2008 or early 2009. Apple could surprise us all and announce an agreement this Summer with a China distribution partner … but my tealeaf reading suggests China will come after many other key nations are announced. I think there will be plenty of excitement over the Pacific Rim group of nations in the Sinapore Telecommunications consortium … that group will include Australia (See nations below). Japan will also be a key nation for iPhone. Looks like it will be a partnership with NTT DoCoMo in Japan. Again … IMO China will come later followed quickly by Taiwan.
There are also quite a number of nations in Europe who will get iPhone later this year. While China is important, better that Apple make the right deal with the right partner at the right time vs. capitulating to China Mobile and building TD-SCDMA support into the next-gen iPhone when that protocol may become an expensive prehensile tail. Better also to make a deal with the TBA carrier that wins China rights to build out the W-CDMA 3G network.
Apple does have another alternative in China … that being to go formally (official launch) with a major China handset distributor (e.g. D-Phone or Shenzhen Aisidi) without a carrier/partner. This would be a significant deviation from Apple’s current iPhone business (revenue sharing) model and it is therefore a lesser possibility. If Apple makes this move, they would want to sow up carrier agreements with the rest of the world before announcing such a plan in China. Bottom line…. it’s all just guesswork and anything could happen.
Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) may be using its holdings and control of regional telecom companies to win a contract with Apple and coordinate a multi-nation Apple iPhone launch. The launch could involve seven different carriers in as many nations and bring iPhone to a subscriber base of 136 million. Apple conveniently has a major campus in Singapore.
The Thai Daily, Bangkok Post and Australian IT are reporting that Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) is in talks with Apple on a coordinated iPhone distribution plan throughout the Pacific Rim. SingTel is in a position to aid with logistics and planning. Australia’s Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of SingTel and the Singapore carrier has significant holdings in telecom companies throughout the region. SingTel website reports the group’s major telecom investments include:
· AIS in Thailand (21% owned by SingTel)
· Optus in Australia (wholly owned by SingTel)
· Bharti Telecom Group in India
· Globe Telecom in the Philippines
· Pacific Bangladesh Telecom (PBTL) in Bangladesh
· Telkomsel in Indonesia
· Warid Telecom in Pakistan
In combination, the companies above have more than 136 million mobile customers. This is the largest mobile customer base in Asia outside of China.
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[idannyb reply] re: Maybe there never will be a 3G phone….
Very interesting (To: name withheld) … Thanks for posting.
Makes sense to me. I posted an article on Feb 1st re the dimming prospects for China’s home-grown TD-SCDMA 3G
It’s becoming more apparent to me that China is exploring alternatives to their “China only” 3G protocol. It’s also clear in listening/reading some of Duncan Clark’s (a well-informed China-based consultant) writings and podcasts, that China is realizing the mistake of being overly paternalistic in building out their own technology platforms vs adopting world standards.
It was no mistake (IMO) that a story was leaked to the press several weeks back identifying numerous problems with TD-SCDMA 3G.
There are many changes in the works in China’s telecom industry. There is a possibility that China Telecom will be allowed to acquire China Unicom’s CDMA mobile network and gain a 3G license. The China Ministry of Information Industry (MII) appears to be setting up some legitimate competition for mobile customers in China … There is a decent chance that a newly structured China Unicom/Netcom will win the rights to build out W-CDMA 3G (China Mobile wants the W-CDMA rights too, and this could be a contentious battle). W-CDMA is the most ubiquitous European 3G standard and it is the big prize if TD-SCDMA fails to deliver.
If China Unicom wins the rights to build out W-CDMA, then China Mobile may be looking to “one up” China Unicom … and no better way than to tell the world that they are leapfrogging W-CDMA with the new Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G protocol.
Given the internal China dynamics/politics over 3G protoocols, I see Apple moving with the rest of the Pacific Rim before engaging in serious negotiations with China. That said, I do believe polite discussions with potential partners are and will be ongoing and I do expect a formal iPhone launch in China in late 2008 or more likely in early 2009.
I would be very interested to learn how many 3G standards the new (under cloak) Apple iPhone will support. I’d bet iPhone’s chipset will handle several “world standard” 3G protocols and possibly WiMax … I would also bet that TD-SCDMA might not be one of them given its “iffy” future.
It was also interesting that ZTE (China OEM) announced their new femtocell base-station yesterday in Barcelona … This femtocell currently has simultaneous GSM and WCDMA support, and can be modified to to support CDMA and WiMAX in the future. ZTE said this device can also support the development of “long term evolution” (LTE) 4G technology.
Again, this supports the thesis that China is not betting everything on TD-SCDMA. China may be modifying their “indigenous innovation” stance and pragmatically moving to world standards … good move!
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[initial post] Maybe there never will be a 3G phone….
Financial Times reports China Mobile (CHL) is on Wednesday expected to lend its support to LTE, the wireless broadband standard that looks set to become the flagship 4G technology. LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is gaining strong momentum as the next generation wireless technology to provide super-fast web surfing on mobiles. Arun Sarin, Vodafone’s (VOD) chief executive, said on Tuesday that the UK group would join China Mobile and Verizon Wireless (VZ), the second-largest US mobile operator, to promote LTE. He said LTE was getting a “pretty good push”. “LTE, on the back of Vodafone, Verizon and China Mobile saying we are going there, is a pretty clear direction in terms of where the industry is heading,” he added. It suggests LTE will emerge as the leading 4G technology, rather than WiMax or Ultra Mobile Broadband, which are the main alternatives. Mr Sarin said WiMax should be harmonised with LTE, adding that Vodafone is planning to roll out 4G networks from 2010. People familiar with the situation said China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator by number of customers and market capitalisation, would on Wednesday lend its support to LTE. They added it was unclear whether China Mobile would also support the case for a distinct Chinese 4G technology. Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, chief executive of Nokia (NOK), the world’s largest handset maker, said: “I see LTE as being the main fourth-generation technology.” However, he said WiMax would be more than a niche alternative to LTE, adding there would be a diversity of 2G, 3G and 4G technologies used by mobile operators. Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), the Franco-American telecoms equipment maker, and NEC, the Japanese electronics group, on Tuesday announced a joint venture under which they will pool research and development on LTE. Patricia Russo, Alcatel-Lucent chief executive, denied it was a cost-cutting exercise for the equipment maker, which last week reported a €2.6 bln ($3.8 bln) net loss for the fourth quarter. She said the joint venture would accelerate deployment of LTE technology, due to be launched in Japan next year.
~ (name withheld)