For Beijing Olympics, Lots Left to Do

China has made limited progress on its wireless infrastructure, plans for vehicle traffic and transportation systems before the 2008 summer games.

August marked the one-year point until the 2008 Olympic Games begin in Beijing. Standing on the street in the Chinese capital, can you tell? Yes and no.

Construction cranes still tower over the city, and building continues apace—but that’s not a significant change over the past 10 or even 20 years. More new cars traverse Beijing’s streets—an estimated 700 to 1,000 per day—and with them comes a Dickensian haze of smog. June 2007 had the worst air quality for that month in seven years. When are the opening ceremonies, again?

In terms of technology, many question marks remain about what Beijing will offer. To date, China has not issued third-generation (3G) telephony licenses. All indications are that China will use its own time division-synchronous code division multiple access 3G technology, and that its deployment will be limited.

Also discussed is citywide wireless Internet, which may be more of a move toward fourth-generation technology than just a stop-gap implementation.

Beijing had announced it would ban a million vehicles—one-third of the city’s cars—from Aug. 7 to Aug. 20 as a trial run for next year, but no evidence of that ban has emerged. New subway lines planned for the games will not open until next year.

Olympic merchandise is everywhere, and China’s media buzz with mentions of the games. But the capital’s long-stated goal of having English-speaking taxi drivers for the games seems to be a pipe dream.

One year off, China still has a lot of work to do before an expected half-million foreign visitors arrive and billions of television viewers tune in.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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