China Mobile announced that it will begin testing the country’s homegrown 3G standard next week. The carrier said as part of the new service test it will issue 20,000 TD-SCDMA-enabled handsets and 5,000 data cards to select customers. Trial devices include free airtime. China Mobile will also offer an additional 40,000 handsets in stores for $7.13 a month, with outgoing calls costing in 6 cents a minute.
China Mobile said the testing will begin April 1 and run through July in eight cities, including Beijing.
China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers.
China began developing its own 3G standard in 2001, in an attempt to compete with other 3G standards including WCDMA. The government has said it hopes 3G services will roll out before the summer Olympics begin this August in Beijing.