China will issue third-generation mobile phone licenses as early as this month and expects companies to spend 200 billion yuan ($30 billion) on installing equipment, the industry minister said Friday. China has the world’s biggest population of mobile phone users and adoption of 3G — which has been long delayed — was eagerly anticipated by equipment suppliers, which are seeing demand elsewhere decline due to the global financial crisis. “The 3G licenses will be issued either later this year or early next year,” Li Yizhong, whose ministry regulates telecoms, said at a news conference. Third-generation mobile phone technology supports Web surfing, video downloads and other added services. Its adoption in China is expected to boost demand for mobile service and spur growth of new services.
Most Indonesians access the Internet primarily using fixed wireline infrastructure, mostly dialup. Because of lack of competition in the fixed line sector due to various reasons fixed line growth has been stagnant which has also affected Internet growth in the country. Not only are no new lines being added to bring more homes online, the inadequate backbone infrastructure in large swathe of the country makes deployment of broadband services unviable even if incumbent’s local loop bottleneck could be bypassed. However, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2007) seems to suggest that high speed 3G wireless technology like HSDPA can bring broadband on a large scale to Indonesians. It (misleadingly) implies that since HSDPA is merely a software upgrade to 3G networks it will not require any new major telecom infrastructure investment in Indonesia.
In the 1980s and 1990s, a debate raged in the US on the question of industrial policy; the proponents arguing that the government should pick sectors and “winners” and the opponents arguing that government bureaucrats were not in a position to do so and that the market should be allowed to take its course. One of the most effective methods of policy argumentation in the US is “we are falling behind [fill in the blank].” Those days, the country that was forging ahead of the US was Japan, in most cases (e.g., Fifth Generation Computing, High Definition Television) .