The mainland's home-grown 3G technology may start commercial tests next year China's home-grown third-generation (3G) mobile technology - time division synchronous code division multiple access (TD-SCDMA) - could begin commercial trials early next year, according to Li Shihe, chief technology officer and vice-president of Datang Telecom. Mr Li, a staunch advocate of TD-SCDMA, said standardisation and the development of the technology was progressing on schedule and some vendors might be able to start commercial trials on their products at the beginning of next year. However, he said it was difficult to say when the commercial trials would be completed because different equipment vendors had different testing schedules. Commercial trials for TD-SCDMA, the youngest and most unproven 3G technology, would represent a small step towards actual commercial deployment of such products, but market watchers remain sceptical about the technology's prospects. It is widely expected that China will issue 3G licences in the second half of next year. China Business Weekly recently quoted unnamed sources as saying the fixed-line carriers might even receive 3G licences ahead of the mobile carriers. Such a timetable would be negative to TD-SCDMA because the earliest TD-SCDMA products, from back-end infrastructure to terminals, would be at least another year away. If the government grants 3G licences before TD-SCDMA products are commercially available, China Telecommunications Corp and China Netcom Group, the only possible clients for TD-SCDMA technology, would be under intense pressure to adopt one of the other two 3G technologies. Led by Datang Telecom, the eight founding members of the TD-SCDMA Alliance held a two-day forum in Beijing late last week to show off the latest developments. Datang has successfully lobbied the government to allocate 600 million yuan (HK$562.4 million) this year to boost TD-SCDMA research and development. Datang Telecom Technology and Industry Group vice-president Yang Yigang said the funding would be split among several Chinese telecom equipment suppliers involved in the development of TD-SCDMA technology. Last year, Datang Telecom attempted to seek funding via private placement to help finance the project, but the plan was scrapped in the face of unenthusiastic responses from private investors. The vendors then turned to the government for financial backing. Mr Yang said that Datang Telecom would need to raise additional funding to finance the project, but refused to give any details. 'We certainly need to raise more money. It is very costly to develop TD-SCDMA technology, we are talking about tens of billions,' Mr Shi said. The central government has been keen on the development of a home-grown 3G standard for both national security and economic reasons. With the world's largest mobile phone market - more than 240 million subscribers - China's mobile equipment suppliers have been paying tens of billions of yuan to licence mobile technology from foreign companies. The government is hoping that if it can develop its only mobile standard and technology, such loyalty fees would benefit China's economic growth. Dominant mobile operators China Mobile and China Unicom have opted for W-CDMA and CDMA2000 respectively.