China Mobile has unveiled plans to promote their 3G network – Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA). In partnership with 10 handset manufacturers, China Mobile plans to deliver (by year end) 18 new TD-SCDMA handsets running an Android-based mobile operating system. This new OS will be custom designed to promote China Mobile’s wireless value added services. These new phones will be dubbed “OPhones.” The first OPhone to launch will be the Dopod G2 (Dopod is the brand that HTC markets under in Asia). Levono will likely be next in line with their own Android-based OPhone for China Mobile.
To cover manufacturers’ risks/expenses in delivering TD-SCDMA ready OPhones, China Mobile plans to subsidize these handsets (paying manufacturers more than they will sell the phones at retail). The total amount set aside for subsidy you ask? A whopping RMB 12 billon ($1.76 billion in USD).
Hmmm? I seem to recall China Mobile stressing the fact that China’s carriers don’t subsidize handsets. At least that was the emphatic point China Mobile spun in the press when they were in talks with Apple for an iPhone deal. A wise man once said “never say never.”
Long time iPhonAsia readers know that I’ve been skeptical about the long term prognosis for TD-SCDMA. This Spruce Goose network may have difficulty taking flight in China … but there is simply too much state money and pride behind the “indigenously innovated” (a favorite phrase of China’s authorities) TD-SCDMA for this behemoth not to take flight and at least circle the harbor for a year or two. TD-SCDMA will make way for China Mobile’s TD-LTE 4G network. It’s no surprise that TD-LTE is being fast-tracked.