Posts Tagged ‘3G’

Update – May 13, 2009: Wow! MIIT approves a WiFi capable 3G handset. Read details > HERE

Update – April 24, 2009: Beijing. April 24. INTERFAX-CHINA – The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has allowed mobile phone manufacturers to integrate China’s homegrown WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) standard into their handsets, a source at a domestic handset manufacturer told Interfax on April 22.

The source, who asked to not be identified, said that MIIT told a number of handset manufacturers on April 17 that both 2G and 3G handsets are now allowed to have integrated WAPI technology to allow users to access wireless broadband. Read details > HERE

MIIT mulling over WiFi policy for 3G smartphones

One egg that may now be in Apple’s Easter basket is an iPhone deal with China Unicom. While Apple and China Unicom may be on the same page, there could be one or two matters to clear up with China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). Namely a loosening up of WiFi restrictions and acceptance of iPhone and iPod Touch as approved gaming devices (similar to dispensation for Nintendo DS Lite).  We’ll leave the gaming issue to another article on another day. Today the focus will be on WiFi.

What needs to be resolved? The MIIT has been favoring “indigenously innovated” WiFi technologies (WAPI vs. 802.11i) and has banned WiFi on 3G mobile phones. The logic for the ban appears to be the MIIT’s desire to protect carriers from voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calling. The MIIT is also afraid that consumers will bypass carriers’ networks by way of WiFi that does not support China’s WAPI (Wireless LAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) encryption protocols. WAPI is rumored to have backdoors that allow for Great Firewall snooping. More on China’s WAPI > HERE

iphone_unlocked_2-thumb1This “no WiFi on 3G phones” policy has created unintended consequences and threatens to slow economic growth in China. Here’s a short list of the problems that the ban poses:

  • The ban has created a huge blackmarket demand for WiFi enabled phones. It has been estimated that 50% of all mobile phone sales in China are through unauthorized channels.
  • The demand for blackmarket handsets has helped to create a thriving “jail-braking” business, where entrepreneurs will unlock handsets and load them with “illegal in China” apps (e.g. Skype and other VoIP and tethering apps).  
  • China loses out on licensing fees for all blackmarket handset sales.
  • Owners of blackmarket phones have little incentive to go “on contract” with carriers.
  • Non-WiFi handset owners have a lower ARPU

wifi-music-store-headerThere is another key issue … With so many blackmarket handsets flooding the market, carriers may have trouble selling their new non-WiFi 3G handsets. China Mobile has several “on the drawing board” customized TD-SCDMA models they would like to promote – Levono OPhone with China Mobile’s proprietary OS, HTC with the Android OS, and forthcoming TD models from Nokia. China Unicom will also be promoting several new WCDMA 3G models including new iPhone 3G models* (yes, possibly plural).

*Guesswork: iPhonAsia believes the iPhone deal with China Unicom will be announced either May 17 or June 9 and will launch mid to late summer. The important caveat is the necessary MIIT approval of the new iPhone models.

3G Smartphones with WiFi enabled will spur greater consumption of wireless value added services (WVAS). This will generate new revenues for carriers and third-party app/game developers. Yet, for now, the WiFi ban stands. While VoIP apps may not be allowed for the foreseeable future in China, the ban on WiFi will only hurt carriers’ ability to enjoy higher average revenue per user (APRU).

There may be some good news on the horizon. It is apparent that carriers and handset manufacturers have been lobbying the MIIT to overturn the WiFi ban. They have likely made the case that smartphones with 3G + WiFi will generate greater average revenue per user (ARPU) verses 3G alone. Moreover, the genie is out of the bottle. There are thousands of open WiFi networks in China’s urban zones, and there is no good way the control the blackmarket in handsets unless MIIT shifts its WiFi policy. For example, there are now some 500,000 iPhone 3G owners in China surfing on EDGE 2.5 G and WiFi. China Telecom and China Unicom can expect the blackmarket to upset their plans to bring more Chinese wireless users “on contract.” China Mobile too has an incentive to add WiFi to select models (e.g. TD HTC) as they can expect TD-SCDMA smartphones to stay on the store shelves if they do not include WiFi.

The best way to undercut the blackmarket is to allow WiFi on 3G smartphones and provide incentives for consumers to purchase authorized handsets and to go “on contract” for cool and fun WVAS (e.g. App Store, music, games, mobile TV, video chat, wave-to-pay, tethering and many pre-loaded apps). The bottom line … there is more money to be made with WiFi than without.

Let’s hope China’s MIIT acts in Chinese consumers’ interests and in China’s economic interests by allowing WiFi on new 3G smartphones in China. 


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apple_unicom2iPhonAsia Comment: On March 8 iPhonAsia reported on a rumored Apple/China Unicom summit that began the week of March 9. Details > HERE. This meeting has now been confirmed by a China telecommunications industry insider. As reported in the

China Unicom Executive Director Gang Li

China Unicom Exec. Director Gang Li

article below and through several China news services, a China Unicom executive contingency, led by Executive Director of Mobile Communications Gang Li, and Yu Yingtao, head of China Unicom’s handset management center and its procurement subsidiary Vsens.com, arrived in San Jose on March 8th. The objective of this summit was to take iPhone negotiations to a serious level. As outlined in a March 8 iPhonAsia post, the negotiation points likely included (some may have been resolved before March 8):

  • The issue of a subsidy payment from China Unicom to Apple for each “on contract” iPhone.
  • Whether Apple will agree to disable WiFi on iPhone in China. WiFi on mobile handsets does not conform to China’s WAPI standard of security
  • Exclusivity. Whether China Unicom will have exclusive selling rights in PRC.
  • Whether Apple will agree to pre-load iPhone with applications popular in China (e.g. Youku vs Youtube).
Gang Li

Gang Li

A report via ccw.com.cn (< details in Mandarin 传联通就引入iPhone达成协议) indicates that the China Unicom delegation remained in discussions for a full two weeks.  We hope they had time over the weekend to do a little sightseeing, particularly with San Francisco, Monterey, Carmel and Pebble Beach so close by. The China Unicom team did not return to Beijing until March 18. It is therefore quite possible that the China Unicom team remained in town for the Apple 3.0 presentation delivered on St Patricks Day (March 17).  This event was held in the Town Hall meeting room at Apple’s Cupertino HQ. Conveniently, there is a conference room upstairs where an executive group might comfortably watch the presentations via closed circuit TV. This discretion might be necessary as the Press was on hand for the 3.0 event and a group of well dressed Chinese gentlemen might cause a few members of the media to make the connection.

The report below, via China Tech News, suggests that an iPhone launch will not happen on May 17 (W-CDMA 3G trial launch day in 55 major cities) but only after more testing. iPhonAsia has previously suggested that May 17 could be a target day for an iPhone in China announcement, with a scheduled launch later in the Summer. We will hold to that prediction. 

China Unicom Says “No Comment” To iPhone Agreement With Apple

picture-1143.20.09 via China Tech News – In response to media reports this week which stated China Unicom has signed an agreement with Apple to introduce Apple’s iPhone into China, a spokesperson from China Unicom says “no comment at the current stage”.

However, according to a China Unicom insider quoted by local media, the two companies’ negotiation about the introduction of iPhone has gained much progress, though the details are not available.

A delegation led by China Unicom’s vice president for mobile communications marketing, Li Gang, went to Apple’s U.S. headquarters for a negotiation on March 8 and the delegation returned to Beijing on March 18.

The insider says the two sides have gained major progress in the negotiation, but they have not reached any agreement. There is one thing for sure: the iPhone handsets will not be launched in China on May 17 when China Unicom is due to launch its first batch of WCDMA mobile phone numbers, because even if the two companies decide to introduce the iPhone into China, the companies still need time to purchase the iPhone handsets and test the compatibility between the handsets and the WCDMA network of China Unicom.

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China’s CCTV reports on the current status of 3G

China Mobile – TD-SCDMA 3G (launched continuing network buildout)

China Unicom – W-CDMA 3G (currently building network, target trial launch is May 17, 2009)

China Telecom – CDMA2000 3G (currently building network)



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att_logo-2Update: via MacRumors 02/09/2009 … Excerpt: MobileCrunch discovered several image files in the new update package that appear to signal the iPhone’s compatibility with AT&T’s upcoming 3G MicroCell technology. 

AT&T is apparently in the final stages of preparing a launch of a femtocell device/service – AT&T 3G Microcell. Apple at one time showed some interest in Fon and their “free WiFi” femtocell device …

Femtocells are “in home” (or office) cellular base stations that are connected to the Internet and send out “pumped up” wireless signals (encrypted, or public or both).  While using femtocells to boost cellular is not new, many carriers are looking at femtocells as a way to expand Wi-Fi and 3G coverage. Femotcells will have a range of about 5,000 feet and offer key advantages to both wireless users and carriers. Routing calls/data through a femtocell vs celltower is much less expensive for the carrier and results in a stronger signal, clearer call and faster data transmission (no network crowding). att-3g-microcell-setup

More details via Engadget Excerpt: “the unit comes from Cisco (versus Samsung for Sprint and Verizon), and like its competitors, the MicroCell will require a broadband connection to operate. It’ll cover up to 5,000 square feet, allow up to four simultaneous voice or data connections (locked down so that your neighbors can’t pilfer the signal), and most interestingly, will only work with 3G phones. … (femtocells) cells offered by Sprint and Samsung only offer 2G coverage, so AT&T’s arguably got an advantage here.” 

For more background see iPhonAsia posts …

> Femtocells – Connect the Dots

> AT&T planning in-home mini cell tower

1-25-09-verizon-network-extNote: Verizon has just launched their own femtocell called the Network Extender. More > HERE

According to a report via The Boy Genius Report AT&T is staging the launch of femtocell service – AT&T 3G Microcell. See > HERE

BGR Excerpt: Trials supposedly were underway months ago, but it looks like the launch could be literally around the corner. One of our faithful AT&T ninjas sent us in a screenshot that shows an AT&T 3G Microcell femtocell option in addition to AT&T’s broadband and TV service, U-Verse. We don’t have a date on this yet — we’ll continue to dig — but appearing publicly on employee’s screens is always a good sign! Read full Boy Genius Report > HERE




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iPhonAsia comment: Here (below) is the editor’s reply to a post on AppleInsider re the Nano iPhone. Note that iPhonAsia considers the Nano iPhone to be an outside chance, albeit more evidence is coming in each day to support its existence. But we do see two (2) new iPhone deals in PRC in 2009. One with > China Mobile and the next with China Unicom.

Originally Posted by iVlad View Post
“But why not regular iPhone?”
Originally Posted by Pachomius View Post
“IT’S CLEAR CLEAR CLEAR!!! This is the phone that they will start selling in China. That explains everything.”

iPhonAsia reply:

This is total guesswork but …
This all begins to make more sense if you consider that the Nano iPhone 
might have been specially built for China Mobile.

There are many reasons why a “Nano” iPhone does not make sense (e.g. screen too small, at least by Western Standards) … yet there are reasons why it might fly in the Far East . Consider that this could be a low price “customized” model designed in concert with China Mobile (see >”customization” for back story re Accenture’s involvement). This model would be EDGE 2.75G and TD-SCDMA 3G ready and would support Monternet – China Mobile’s VAS platform. No iTunes, no AppStore, no WiFi. China Mobile is building their own app store and they are subsidizing all “TD ready” handsets authorized in China. Of China Mobile’s 400+ million users, approximately 290 million are pre-paid users (no contract). Many pre-paid users aspire to iPhone but cannot afford without a price incentive (China Mobile subsidy to go on contract). 

This rumored deal to build a customized TD iPhone for China Mobile flies in the face of Apple’s model for doing business with all other world carriers. In many ways it’s hard to fathom and I wouldn’t blame anyone for saying “no way!” However, this customized model may be a pre-requisite for doing business in China’s highly controlled handset market. China Mobile’s parent company CMCC is majority state owned (by China) and they need to get the new TD-SCDMA network off to a fast start. It has been a struggle thus far and cool handsets are key to user adoption. 

IMHO Apple will not do an exclusive deal with China Mobile. The next deal TBA will be with China Unicom , who will be launching their W-CDMA 3G network mid-May 2009. This will be a more standard model iPhone 3G, which already supports W-CDMA 3G.


See also >

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iPhonAsia comment: There’s always a catch … according to StarHub’s website, the ‘Home Zone’ service and device is at present limited to the first 200 customers.

pixiphone3gStarHub also recommends 3G phones for use on its new Home Zone service … Look who’s on the top of their list (w a bit of help from the alphabet) Apple iPhone 3G. Funny that StarHub doesn’t even offer iPhone 3G to it’s subscribers … or do will they? Yet StarHub does sell all of the other “recommend phones” via their website … Hmmm? See > HERE

Read more about femtocells on iPhonAsia > HERE and HERE 

Recommended 3G Handsets

The following 3G handsets are recommended for use with the ‘Home Zone’ service –

  • Apple – iPhone 3G
  • HTC – Diamond, Touch, Touch Diamond, Touch Pro
  • LG – KF700, KS20, KT520, KT610, KU800, KU990, Secret
  • Motorola – K3, Pazr2 V9, V6
  • MWG – Atom V
  • Nokia – 3120, 6110, 6120, 6500C, 6600S, 6680, 8800, E51, E61, E65, E71, N73, N80, N81, N82, N95
  • Samsung – F330, G810, i550, i600, i780, i900, InnovZ8, SGH-F500, SGH-P960, SGH-I450, U700, U900, Z720
  • Sony Ericsson – C702, C902, G900, K600i, K660, K810i, K850i, T650i, W660, W760, W910, W980

StarHub Launches the World’s First Commercial 3G Femtocell Service

Read full article > HERE

picture-11Singapore’s Starhub has launched the world’s first commercially-available 3G femtocell service. StarHub is making all local outgoing voice, video calls and SMS free for customers using the ‘Home Zone’ service, ensuring that users, who make frequent mobile calls and SMS from home, can enjoy significant cost-savings on their mobile phone bills.

800px-starhubsvg3G femtocell is a portable cellular access device that connects a user’s 3G mobile phone directly to an internet-enabled router in the home so that users can make voice and video calls and send SMS over StarHub’s cable network from their mobile phones.

“As the operator that frequently delivers new innovations to the Singapore market, we see tremendous potential in the ‘Home Zone’ service which uses the 3G femtocell technology. While services such as Voice-over-IP (VoIP) have been available for some years, these are restricted to VoIP-enabled mobile phones. The beauty of the 3G femtocell technology is that all 3G-enabled phones are supported and customers do not need to purchase special handsets to take advantage of it,” said Mr Anil Nihalani, Head of Mobile and Communications, StarHub.

As an added bonus, besides his/her own mobile number, the subscriber can nominate up to three other StarHub mobile numbers to a white-list that will be recognised by the ‘Home Zone’ service. This means that up to four StarHub 3G mobile users can call out simultaneously over a single ‘Home Zone’ connection, each of the callers being able to enjoy the same benefits.

Mr Nihalani said, “The ‘Home Zone’ service demonstrates the true benefits of hubbing with StarHub. By extending the ability to use the ‘Home Zone’ service to immediate family members, hubbing families who are our 3G mobile and MaxOnline customers, will be able to get more out of it with better cost-savings and convenience.”

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iPhonAsia comment: This GSM/TD-SCDMA back-and-forth transition will be very important to handset owners and will ideally be incorporated into a TD iPhone 3G

China Mobile Researches New 2G/3G Exchange Technology

Sohu IT, 11/21/08 – Full post > HERE

picture-21China Mobile (NYSE: CHL; 0941.HK) has revealed that the company is currently cooperating with chip and terminal manufacturers to research and develop new interoperable 2G and 3G technology, and is now conducting tests of the technology.

No problems currently arise when TD-SCDMA mobile phones transfer to the GSM network, however when GSM mobile phones transfer to the TD-SCDMA network, phones must be restarted before they can operate correctly. China Mobile has stated that, once developed, the new technology will allow for smooth transitioning between the GSM and TD-SCDMA networks. Once the new technology is launched, current interoperable software will also need to be upgraded.

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