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Dazzling Debut for 3G Service
    2008-04-02 09:33:08     Shanghai Daily

Shoppers test 3G phones and data cards at a China Mobile outlet in Shanghai on Tuesday, when the carrier officially started to trial the use of networks based on the China-developed TD-SCDMA technology in eight cities.[Photo: Shanghai Daily]

China's new 3G phones debuted in Shanghai yesterday with flashy functions that attracted crowds of shoppers, even though sales were only moderate.

A limited variety of models and the public's unfamiliarity with the 3G technology affected the first day of the commercial trial, industry sources said.

People can purchase the TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous code division multiple access) phones and subscribe to 3G services, with a number starting with 157, from China Mobile.

From early yesterday, people crowded into Shanghai Mobile's Renmin Road shop, one of the carrier's two main TD-SCDMA outlets. The available phones were made by six firms, including ZTE, Samsung, Lenovo and LG, and they cost from 1,800 to 3,800 yuan (US$256 to US$535).

By 4pm, Samsung and Lenovo phones were sold out in the Renmin Road outlet. By evening, about 50 3G services had been sold in the other outlet on Zhangwu Road near Tongji University.

Customers were most impressed with eyeball-catching functions such as mobile stock quotes, video calling and TV on the handsets. During a video-calling demonstration, callers could clearly see each other but image quality was lost if they were moving.

The TD-SCDAM signal offers coverage within the city's Outer Ring Road, at the airports, around the Formula One circuit and hotels, and along Metro lines.

China Mobile has launched the 3G service in eight cities including Guangzhou and Beijing. In Shanghai, the carrier will sell the phones in 164 outlets, with the first batch expected to be about 10,000 units.

The 3G network is not available in other cities but users can switch to 2G networks there, outlet officials said.

"I'm interested in China's 3G services for high-speed data services and my most-needed functions are Internet access and a faster e-mail service," said Dimitri Kaczmarek, who works for a finance firm in Shanghai.

Kaczmarek wanted to buy the Samsung L288 (2,800 yuan) but it was sold out , so he bought a ZTE U980 (3,800 yuan) dual-model phone and a ZTE MU318 data card (700 yuan), which can be plugged into a laptop for Internet access.

An IT engineer named Wang said: "It's cool to have a 3G phone and it's the right time for me to replace phone." Wang admitted he would mainly use voice services on his LG KD876 (2,500 yuan).

Credit cards were not accepted yesterday, which meant some people were unable to buy 3G phones.

Users can choose packages costing from 28 yuan for 150 minutes to 88 yuan for 600 minutes. During the trial, users can enjoy a 50-percent fee discount, which makes 3G costs close to 2G services, according to China Mobile.



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