518 Million


518M is the number of subscribers China Mobile currently has. To put that in perspective that’s over 60% more than Vodafone‘s 323M – the next biggest, and over two and a half times that of Telefonica, the 3rd biggest operator in the world. That’s a pretty significant market for anyone who’s anything to do with mobile therefore, and don’t forget that that’s purely a domestic market.

The news that senior representatives from China Mobile came to London to visit Symbian and put pen to paper on a MoU between our two organisations is certainly not insignificant.

China Mobile - Symbian MoU Signing

What, however, has that got to do with connectivity (more than any other operator that is)? The answer is TD-SCDMA – a 3G telephony standard was, until now, one of the lesser user parts of the 3GPP specification. I say “until now” because the licensing regulators in China have assigned their three national operators three different telephony standards: China Unicom – FD-WCDMA (3G as we know it in Europe, Japan and most of the world); China Telecom – CDMA2000 (3G as used throughout widely in the US); China Mobile – yes, you’ve guessed it – TD-SCDMA.


So what is TD-SCDMA? Like other UMTS technologies it uses a Wideband-CDMA mechanism to communicate, but whereas the predominant UMTS technology separates the uplink and downlink channels by transmitting them on different frequencies (Frequency Division) China Mobile’s radio technology separates them in time instead (Time Division). Additionally, the “S” in TD-SCDMA means that the radio signals are transmitted synchronously between the mobile and base-station (to allow for better interference rejection from other users). There are a number of pros and cons to using this mechanism, but overall these differences aren’t what’s relevant – what is, however, is that it means a whole new set of modems and software for mobile devices.

So what does it mean for Symbian – well fortunately the Symbian architecture was pretty well thought out from the start to enable maximum flexibility for future technologies – let’s face it, 3G didn’t even exist when the telephony subsystem (ETel) was first conceived.

I’ve been in Beijing and Shanghai in the last few weeks following up with a number of companies working with Symbian and TD-SCDMA including T3G (a subsidiary of one our board members: ST-Ericsson) and Nokia’s TD team who not long ago launched the first open TD-SCDMA device – running Symbian. On Friday they announced a long-term partnership for TD-SCDMA on Symbian.

Nokia 6788

So, Symbian is ready for TD-SCDMA – what’s next? Well we’re looking to get contributions of the telephony adaptation code from a number of TD-modem makers so OEMs can easily integrate TD-SCDMA into their devices, ready to target those 518M subscribers.


One Response to “518 Million”

  1. 518百万手机用户 « Symbian Foundation Chinese Blog Says:

    […] 摘自Tom的英文博客 […]

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