China is having its annual national congress meeting recently. Besides blocking the traffic in Beijing, the officials are also trying to decide (or seems to trying to decide) the future of the country. China Mobile’s Chairman, Wang Jiangzhou, who is also a high ranking government official, said something quite amusing to the local press.

He said Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs is very interested in TD-LTE, and promised to do R&D on it soon. But, he could say when there will be an iPhone with TD standard. (Here is an article about it in local press:

China has been pushing its own 3G standard TD-SCDMA since its inception. It is a way for China to develop its own IP rights. But, TD’s development met with a lot of obstacle. Its official launch was delayed again and again. When it was finally ready in 2009, Chinese government gave it an ultimate boost by licensing TD to China Mobile, the strongest mobile operator in the country, with over 70% users.

This gives TD the best chance to develop. But, it becomes a curse on China Mobile. Although it still has about 70% of all the 2G mobile users, it has only 30-40% of the 3G users. Its competitors, China Unicom and China Telecom, which have better 3G standards (WCDMA and CDMA2000), have been gaining market shares. This is reflected in their share prices respectively.

Realizing the TD 3G standard’s weakness, China Mobile knows if it wants to regain market share, it has to develop 4G (TD-LTE) as soon as possible. It has already started testing TD-LTE in a few cities. Most expert agreed technically TD-LTE is not a bad standard.

An iPhone with TD-LTE might be still a long term dream. But China Mobile is trying hard to turn TD and its fortune around.

Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution, the first book to completely survey the nature of China's internet. ( She previously was the lead China technology reporter...

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