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China adopts global 3G standards

European and American network protocols are approved for use in China, increasing options for operators and phone manufacturers.

China's Ministry of Information Industry on Wednesday approved the use of European and American network protocols for 3G mobile phones, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

The European WCDMA and American CDMA2000 standards are joining the previously approved Chinese TD-SCDMA standard as legal options for China's nascent 3G industry, with the government promising deployment in time for next year's Beijing Olympics. All four major Chinese operators--China Netcom, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom--have said they are investing in 3G.

"We will let operators choose which standard they want to use. But the government will decide how many 3G licenses are issued," said Xi Guohua, vice minister of information industry, according to Xinhua.

No 3G licenses have yet been awarded. Although TD-SCDMA had been approved in 2006, global manufacturers have been reluctant to produce handsets for the standard, with only Samsung Electronics and Motorola developing products.

Last year, China failed in an attempt to get international acceptance for its locally developed WAPI (WLAN Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure) wireless encryption standards, leading to accusations of conspiracy and unethical behavior within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standardization committee, and counterclaims that details of WAPI had been kept secret from standards organizations.

Rupert Goodwins of ZDNet UK reported from London.