For those of us who were thinking that only developing countries were entitled to technological leapfrogging, we may be in for a surprise with the development of the next-generation broadband wireless mobile communication network (aka 4G).
In the “old days”, telecommunication standards were set by Western multinational companies who would then roll out their products in their markets (mostly in the West). Developing countries would follow (or not) and from time to time leapfrog… This time, the International Telecommunication Union has been discussing the allocation of spectrum for 4G with China already considering three spectrum segments to be used for 4G.
Can we actually speak of a revolution? Rather an evolution. On one hand, China had already started working on the development of FuTURE (Future Technologies for Universal Radio Environment) as early as 2001. On the other hand, the development will most likely entail cooperative agreements involving international leaders in the field and Chinese companies: Datang Telecom said it has set up a 4G mobile technology research center in Beijing with Ericsson. Some analysts have even been arguing for some time that it makes sense to go directly to 4G on the grounds that there is no business case for 3G in China!