Next Tuesday will see China’s largest cell phone operator, China Mobile, launch a large-scale trial of a 3G service based upon TD-SCDMA technology. The trial will see the company issuing 20,000 handsets and 5,000 data cards to participants in Beijing and seven other cities. While there is no indication how long this testing will last, the move is seen as yet another step closer to 3G services being commercially launched in time for the Beijing Olympics this August.

However, according to a report in the International Herald Tribune, the 3G decision comes as regulators are believed to be preparing to restructure China’s telecommunications industry. The overhaul is expected to reassign mobile and fixed line assets among the main state-owned phone companies in an effort to create healthier competition. The government has given no time frame for the changes.

Separately, the CEO of China Unicom, Chang Xiaobing, told Reuters that conditions were right for Beijing to begin issuing licences for mobile operators to launch 3G services because the technology had matured. He stated that his company anticipated strong market demand for mobile internet access and multimedia streaming.