Wireless Firms Team up for ‘T3G’

Three wireless firms Monday formed a joint venture they say will really speed up the adoption of 2.5G and 3G services in mobile phones and other devices.

Under the new company name of “T3G”, Datang Mobile Communications, Royal Philips Electronics and Samsung Electronics say they will design and license core Time Division – Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access (TD-SCDMA) chipsets and reference designs for mobile terminals and end-user equipment. Production of the first commercial TD-SCDMA handsets is expected to be available in 2004 starting in China.

“China is the world’s largest market for mobile phones but there is still considerable untapped demand,” said Samsung vice president of mobile communication Shin, Jong Kyun.

TD-SCDMA combines TDMA and CDMA technologies to let dual-mode 2G/ 3G phones access to services over different networks without interruption. The technology is also good for utilizing unused spectrum to create additional capacity and for adoption in major metropolitan centers.

The collaboration combines Datang’s TD-SCDMA experience, Philips’ semiconductor design and process capability and Samsung’s position in mobile handset creation. Each partner said it has invested considerable resources, including capital, technology, personnel and marketing to make the project work.

“We have already successfully developed a TD-SDCMA test terminal and feel that the time is right to accelerate the availability of the first commercial products,” said Datang Mobile president Zhou Huan. “We strongly believe that our collaboration with Philips and Samsung, both at the forefront of their respective fields, will accelerate the commercialization of TD-SCDMA and thus contribute to the development of the TD-SCDMA industry.”

Company execs say TD-SCDMA is designed to address all sizes of cells – from rural areas to hot spots and indoor applications in busy city centers. Since TD-SCDMA is based on the TDD (Time Division Duplex) principle and uses unpaired frequency bands, it offers optimum efficiency for both symmetric and asymmetric data services. Due to its small bandwidth of 1.6 MHz this technology allows flexible allocation of the spectrum. Finally, seamless hand-over between TD-SCDMA and GSM guarantees that no call is lost while moving.

The challenge is that late adoption of 2G standards in China led to a lack of available spectrum capacity, a factor the company says has limited the market size. The adoption of 3G networks in China will solve the current deficit in capacity, however high infrastructure costs have resulted in mobile operators being slow to invest. Developed by Datang and Siemens, the companies say TD-SCDMA gives operators a standard that can help migrate from existing GSM/ GPRS networks to the third generation functionality without major infrastructure changes.

CEO Johan Pross, a senior executive at Silicon Valley-based Philips Semiconductors, is optimistic about the new company’s chances starting in China.

“T3G is an autonomous company and the three venture partners will allow the company to expand in the market independently,” Pross said. “T3G will also be in a position to form broad strategic alliances and provide open access to the technology.”

The development of TD-SCDMA is being worked on many fronts.

Currently, eight companies establish the TD-SCDMA Forum: China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Datang Group, Huawei Corporation, Motorola, Nortel and Siemens. The governing body of the Forum is the China Mobile Association Committee (CMAC). The group hopes to evolve the standard for greater usage.

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