SHANGHAI, China One of China's largest domestic mobile phone makers, Ningbo Bird Co., intends to invest $38 million to develop handsets for the domestic 3G technology known as TD-SCDMA.
Bird has already designed two 3G phones, both TD-SCDMA, and is developing a third. Some of the early development funds are coming from a $1.25 million grant from the government, the company said.
Now that the Chinese government is likely to issue at least three 3G licenses in 2007, more handset makers are eyeing the market. Chipmakers, too, are beginning to roll out second-generation TD-SCDMA products that they claim can hit a peak data rate of 384Kbits per second, the minimum needed for 3G.
TD-SCDMA will compete in China against CDMA2000 1x and wideband-CDMA. Bird seems content to stick with TD-SCDMA, with no immediate plans to develop cell phones for the more popular global standards.
Bird is also working with Beijing-based chip designer Vimicro Corp. to develop 3G multimedia terminals, a project funded by the government. The project's goal is to reach total annual sales of two million units of 3G mobile multimedia chips, plus a domestic market share of 20 percent or more within three years.
A longtime maker of cell phones, Bird also continues to chase after China's ultra low cost phone market, leveraging chip platforms from Infineon Technologies and Texas Instruments. TI recently began promoting its eCosto platform in China for low-cost multimedia phones for GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks. It is also making volume shipments in China of its LoCosto platform for GSM/GPRS.