In an effort to push TD-SCDMA enabled handset sales forward, China Mobile has decided to (logically) subsidize them. So far sales numbers have fallen short of expectations, and the Chinese mobile operator hopes that the move will see more people switching to 3G prior to and during the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Initially, China Mobile has procured 60,000 TD-SCDMA handsets. The second round, finished recently, involved procurement of 200,000 handsets and the company may additionally order 40,000 TD-SCDMA plus CMMB (China mobile multimedia broadcasting) phones.
Of the total number of handsets in the second round of procurement, China-based makers and vendors (ZTE, Postcom, Amoi and Hisense) together landed orders for 170,000 handsets, while international vendors like Samsung, LG and Motorola accounted for the remaining 30,000 units.
As for the sales promotion, China Mobile will subsidize purchases of TD-SCDMA handsets by 1,000-1,500 yuan ($146-$219) per handset, which is approximately 60% of the handset price. Additionally, China Mobile will absorb charges on TD-SCDMA subscribers’ use of certain communication services during the Olympic Games.
China Mobile launched TD-SCDMA trial operations in early April 2008 and attracted 52,000 subscribers as of July 1. However, of that number only 8,000 were substantial subscribers whereas the remaining majority were trial users provided by China Mobile with SIM cards, TD-SCDMA handsets and subsidies for communication charges.