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Chinese network announces $14.5bn 3G plans

Olympian outlay

China Unicom says it will splurge $14.5bn on network infrastructure over the next two years, as the company rushes to deploy its 3G network.

Not that the company has a 3G licence right now - that's still waiting for the government-inspired reorganisation of the industry that will see the best part of China Unicom merge with China Netcom.

The rest of Unicom goes to China Telecom, as part of the largest industrial reorganisation in history that also sees China Telecom swallowing China Satcom and China Mobile absorbing fixed-line operator China TieTong.

Once this is all done they'll be three operators in China; China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile, all of whom will be able to offer fixed and mobile telephony as well broadband - it's basically about convergence, Chinese style.

The three companies will also be of roughly equal size, to drive competition, so it's hard to conceive that any of them will lack a 3G licence once those are awarded.

Equally large spends will be expected from the competitors, though as the 3G technology being deployed is their own TD-SCDMA it will be hard for western companies to get a share of the pie, but not impossible.

Yesterday Digia demonstrated Nokia's S60 platform running on a TD-SCDMA handset, using Symbian, and you can be sure that executives of all the larger infrastructure providers will be brushing up their Mandarin over the next few months with that kind of money at stake. ®

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