This just in: don't believe anything you hear regarding an official 3G rollout date in China. After quite a bit of rigmarole, the Chinese government has finally announced that it will issue a trio of 3G licenses. Notably, the announcement comes with a bit of baggage -- it's also calling for a merger between China Unicom and Netcom, two of its four biggest telecommunications providers. Furthermore, it stated that it would call on China Telecom, the nation's largest fixed-line carrier, to "purchase Unicom's CDMA network," all leading to a massive shuffle that should position three of the nation's telecom juggernauts to eventually offer high-speed wireless to a staggering 1.3 billion people. Unfortunately (though not unexpectedly), there's no time frame given for implementation, but some analysts are asserting that "a full launch of 3G services is [still] years away." Baby steps are better than no steps, we reckon.

[Thanks, James]