Booster Shot

Illustration for TIME by Jon Krause

When Ted Dean heard in early January that the Chinese government had finally decided to allow the country's three mobile-phone carriers to upgrade to 3G (third generation) network technology, he could hardly believe the long-awaited day had finally arrived. "At one point it seemed like they were never going to make up their minds," recalls the Beijing-based head of telecommunications- and media-analysis firm BDA, "and I would spend my whole career waiting for Beijing to make this one decision."

Dean wasn't alone in his relief. Almost a decade after 3G services were...

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