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|Tuesday, May 29, 2001, updated at 10:13(GMT+8)|
New Telecom System to OpenChina Mobile will soon provide 2.5 generation mobile telecom services in competing with China Unicom, which recently started building the country's first CDMA network, according to top officials with the firm.
Lu Xiangdong, deputy director of China Mobile, the country's major mobile telecom service provider, made the remarks at Monday's launching ceremony of GSM China 2001, the fifth annual conference for the GSM society, or the global system for mobile communications.
China has become the biggest GSM market in the world with more than 100 million mobile phone users adopting the technology by the end of March.
China Mobile, which controls 78 per cent of the domestic mobile market, has 80 million GSM users, according to Lu.
The present GSM service provided by China Mobile is still in the second generation, or 2G, which focuses on the transmission of voice signals.
The so-called 2.5G, the transition between 2G and 3G, is represented by GPRS technology (general packet radio service), which supports much higher speed data transmission than the 2G.
Using GPRS mobile phones, accessing the Internet and sending short messages to your friends will be much faster.
"The coming four years will still be the world of 2.5G, China Mobile will be cautious for a rapid transfer to the 3G," said Lu, who claimed the present market is not right for 3G communications.
As China has become the second biggest mobile communications market, and is soon expected to become the largest, its every move attracts the interests of international telecoms firms.
If China Mobile switches to 2.5G services, a huge market will be kicked off as customers need to buy new GPRS mobile phones to receive the services.
Telecom giants Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, Siemens and domestic firms ZTE and Huawei have all launched related equipment for 2.5G communications, and hope to get a rich feedback from this rapidly growing market.
China Mobile's rival, China Unicom, has recently closed a public bid for its CDMA network, or code division multi-access.
"As the competition between China Mobile and China Unicom becomes more severe, they are rivalling each other to provide better services," said Jim Lin, chief telecom analyst with US-based research house Frost & Sullivan.
China Unicom, which had only a 3 per cent market share in 1998, controls 22 per cent of the mobile telecom market at present.
It has a nationwide GSM network which supports the present 20 million users. The CDMA network, which is scheduled to start operations in October, is expected to attract more customers and further expand Unicom's customers base.
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