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Years on, China pushes WAPI in mobile phones

Owen Fletcher | May 11, 2009
WAPI isn't widely used in China, but the government is pushing carriers to adopt the security protocol

But WAPI is still hardly present in China, where laptop users almost universally use Wi-Fi in coffee shops to surf the Web.

Beijing may hope to change that. This year state-owned carriers China Mobile and China Telecom began requiring that all newly purchased WLAN equipment support WAPI, said Zhang Lulu, vice secretary general of the WAPI Alliance, an industry group promoting the technology.

Local media say the MIIT has started allowing WAPI in handsets in recent weeks, and that the ministry has encouraged handset makers to put WAPI in their devices.

The MIIT did not reply to a request for information.

A government push is likely behind the carriers' support for WAPI, said Mark Natkin, director of Marbridge Consulting in Beijing.

China's mobile operators usually choose mature standards unless asked to do otherwise, he said.

It is unlikely any of the carriers would have chosen to operate the network based on China's domestically developed TD-SCDMA (Time Division-Synchronous CDMA) standard unless required to do so, he said.

"I think the same is probably true of WAPI," Natkin said.

The MIIT chose China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier, to operate China's TD-SCDMA network when it issued 3G licenses earlier this year. Licenses for the more established CDMA-2000 and WCDMA (Wideband CDMA) standards were given to the firm's rivals.


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