Asia news

The Chinese network operator China Mobile are offering research grants to speed development of 3G technologies and Malaysia is planning to become a major aviation hub for low cost airlines.

China Mobile offers R&D funds to handset makers

China Mobile Communications Corp is providing research funding to Nokia to speed the development of mobile phones working on TD-SCDMA, the Chinese standard for 3G.

The network operator has set aside 600 million yuan (US$87m) to pay for relevant R&D by mobile phone manufacturers. Wang Jianyu, president of China Mobile, says this is to broaden the product range of TD-SCDMA-based mobile phones and also enhance their quality.

The Chinese company will share the intellectual property rights of the TD-SCDMA mobile phones with manufacturers that get its funding.

China Mobile opened negotiations two months ago with Nokia, Sony Ericsson, LG and Samsung requesting the companies make joint investments in R&D for the TD-SCDMA handsets. Wang declined to reveal what the outcome with the firms was.

Earlier this year, the Chinese government awarded 3G licences to three network operators, each for a different technology. China Mobile got TD-SCDMA, China Unicom was awarded WCDMA, which is used in Europe, and China Telecom received the North American CDMA2000.

Technology for the home-grown standard is less advanced so far than for its more-established rivals.

Malaysia aims to become aviation hub

Malaysia's principal airport operator has released details of plans to build a new low-cost carriers' terminal (LCCT) and a third runway at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), after the government announced the US$550m plan as part of a stimulus package. The development will make Malaysia a major regional hub.

Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) will fund the construction through bank loans. When the new runway is operational, KLIA will be one of four airports in Asia operating with three runways. The others are Shanghai Pudong, Beijing Capital International Airport and Seoul's Incheon Airport.

Construction of the 4,000m runway will start in June, and work will start on the LCCT in the third quarter of this year with completion scheduled for the end of 2011.

Full parallel taxiways will be provided for Runways 2 and 3 to enable quick turnaround. The three runways will operate independently.

The LCCT aircraft parking apron will have 70 bays. The terminal, with a floor area of 150,000m2, will have a passenger handling capacity of 30 million with provision for expansion to 45 million.

KLIA, which is situated on a 10,000-hectare site, currently has a capacity for 25 million passengers. It opened for operations on June 28 1998.

The Express Rail Link that currently connects Kuala Lumpur city with KLIA will be extended by 1.5km to terminate at LCCT.

MAHB managing director and CEO Bashir Ahmad said the decision to build the new LCCT is based on the National Airport Master Plan 2008 study on KLIA for the development of the facility. The objective is to provide a strategic framework for the orderly development of airport capacity for 22 airports in Malaysia over the next 50 years, against the background of wider development in air transport.

In February the government back-tracked on an earlier decision to allow a privately-funded low-cost carrier's airport to be built in the town of Labu 10km from KLIA.

A separate study is being carried out for rural airports in the states of Sabah and Sarawak in east Malaysia. A joint venture company between Netherlands Airport Consultants BV and KLIA Consultancy Services, was appointed to carry to carry out the study.

The government's plan is to improve the air links of the rural areas in the two states with more points in the country. At the moment air transport is the only means of travel.

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