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Major Chinese handset vendor adopts Linux for 3G phones

Dec 17, 2007 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

One of China's largest handset and infrastructure vendors has reportedly adopted a Linux-based mobile phone software stack as part of its standard 3G mobile phone operating system. ZTE will incorporate Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition into its Linux-based “U980” platform for 3G TD-CDMA phones, according to Trolltech.

(Click for larger view of ZTE's previous QPE-based e3 phone)

Zhongxing Telecommunication Equipment (ZTE) was founded by Zhongxing Semiconductor in 1993. In 2006, it boasted nearly 40,000 employees, and annual revenues of about $3.12 billion, up from 20,000 employees and $2.61 billion revenues the year before.

In addition to handsets, ZTE sells infrastructure equipment, and in fact bills itself as the fastest-growing telecom equipment manufacturer (TEM) in the world. It recently won a massive contract to build half of state carrier China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network.

“U980” is apparently ZTE's standard Linux-based operating system to be used on handsets designed for use with China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network. Phones based on the U980 platform will reportedly be sold through China Mobile, according to Trolltech.

The U980 stack is hardly ZTE's first Linux-based mobile phone OS. In an October survey by VisionMobile, ZTE ranked sixth globally among Linux handset OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), after Motorola, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung, and rival Chinese firm, Haier.

Qtopia Phone Edition architecture

Trolltech's Qtopia Phone Edition (QPE) application platform and user interface stack will serve as the application development framework for ZTE's Linux-based U980 platform, says Trolltech. Oslo, Norway-based Trolltech previously supplied its QPE stack and tools for ZTE's e3 (pictured above) and 3700 phones.

Stated Luo Zhong Sheng, general manager for TD-SCDMA products at ZTE, “Qtopia offers the advantage of a comprehensive development platform while being very flexible. We hope to leverage both advantages when building our internal TD-SCDMA mobile phone platform, U980.”

Other China-related wins for Trolltech's QPE include the 3G Linux phone from government-owned TEM (telecommunications equipment manufacturer) Datang, and YuHua Teltech's “Normandy” phone. Trolltech also supplies a subset of QPE, along with development tools to Motorola, whose Motorola Ming reportedly accounted for one percent of all smartphones sold in China last year.

Like Trolltech, ZTE is a member of the Linux Phone Standards (LiPS) Forum.

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