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'I Have Seen the Future... and It Is China'
'I Have Seen the Future... and It Is China'

Centrino's already on its way to China, and each major Chinese city can shortly expect to see its laptop-owning citizens surfing the Internet in public places such as hotels, bars, and restaurants. And this is only the tip of the iceberg in the world's fastest-growing wireless market.

In Beijing, Intel Corp. recently announced that it has signed deals with China Mobile and China Netcom to help both companies launch wireless local area networks (WLANs) in China. What that means in a nutshell is that China Mobile and China Netcom will be building the WLAN in public sites, while Intel will be providing its Centrino package - microprocessor, related chipsets, 802.11 wireless networking, plus software. Intel will also work with the two carriers to develop and market the new service.

With steady economic development, China provides a good platform for the world's wireless telcos. For the rest of this year, the Chinese national economy is officially expected to grow at an astonishing rate (when you consider the rest of the world) of above 7%, and that will sustain high-speed growth and development of the wireless industry in the Middle Kingdom.

Although China's mobile networks (and its fixed-line networks too) have now become the largest on earth, penetration rates remain relatively low, just 15% in fact. This is why the wireless operators see such great potential for future development. Best of all, since China has an official economic policy of expanding domestic demand, household incomes there will go on increasing steadily in 2003, ensuring continued spending in the wireless/IT sector.

According to a recent macro-economic analysis widely publicized by the Xinhua Information Center, an official news agency, China will remain the world's largest telecommunications market for the foreseeable future. The nation has a mobile user base of 200 million, which is expected to reach a staggering 300 million by just 2005. (When you're the only nation on earth with a population of 1.3 billion, these kinds of numbers are uniquely achievable.)

The same analysis anticipates that 3G will be the focus of the year. Specific technologies it singles out as potential "market hotspots" are CDMA 1X, GPRS, MMS, and "mobile network supporting systems of BSS/OSS/CRM."

Another mind-boggling statistic: last year Chinese people sent 90 billion SMS messages - 8 billion during Spring Festival alone. The annual volume this year is expected to reach 200 billion. Two hundred billion!

The deregulation of the Chinese telecom market last year is already unleashing growth on an unprecedented scale, albeit growth tempered by occasional chaos and disorder - just as was seen and experienced in Japan after deregulation nearly a decade ago in 1994. After the breakup of China Telecom, wireline carriers have a market share of less than 40% as competition from mobile and "small-and-smart" service providers eats away at the fixed-phone services market.

Customer demand for data and multimedia services is expected to soon drive the push toward broadband capability. Hence the focus on 3G, which transforms mobile technology to digital and packet mode, resulting in wireless broadband.

It is no wonder that the historian of civilizations, the French writer Jean Gimpel, wrote the following words in the final paragraph of his prescient 1995 book The End of the Future: The Waning of the High-Tech World: "China will progressively dominate the Pacific Basin and beyond, and for the second time in her long history, she will have entered an era of growth in which her psychological drive and her technological evolution will rise in parallel curves. While western civilization stands at the end of a cycle that is already 1,000 years old, China is at the beginning of a cycle that could last a millennium."

The future, of wireless and the world alike, is China.

About Wireless News Desk
WBT News Desk brings you all the latest and greatest news from the world of wireless business and technology, including breaking news, technical articles and feature stories written by the world's leading experts of mBusiness.

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