China Unicom to offer 3G service to compete with rivals

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China Unicom is finally set to launch the first official iPhone sales in the country this week. And with the biggest carrier in the world as their competition, as well as the 1 million gray-market iPhones already proliferating in China, the company is preparing for battle.

So how did they plan to do it?

Because unlocked iPhones and other high-end phones sold in China’s gray-market only use China Mobile’s 2G network (that uses GSM and GRPS standards), Apple’s official carrier in China for the iPhone will be offering China-developed 3G service to users of any handset that supports 3G, including those gray-market iPhones

I would like to stress out however, that despite China Unicom being the first to officially sell iPhone in China, its contract with Apple is not exclusive. Its main competition, China Mobile, has said last month that they are also in talks with Apple about distribution.

Another probable distributor of the iPhone in the country is Hon Hai Precision Industry (also known by the trade name Foxconn), a major contract manufacturer of Apple gadgets.

Source: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20091026/tc_pcworld/chinaunicomaimsforrivalsgraymarketiphoneusers

China government approves iPhone license

As Apple’s iPhone is expected to be launched soon by its partner carrier China Unicom, the Chinese government has given the consumer electronics maker the green light to use the country’s mobile networks.

The Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center, an organization under China’s IT ministry, also posted pictures on the licensed 8GB iPhone 3G on their website.

The network license was issued on August 25 and will last for one year. This license makes the iPhones officially available in the Chinese market.

The No.2 mobile carrier’s announcement last month of the 3-year deal ended months of rumors about a tie-up with U.S. brand Apple, which has long been looking to bring its smartphone to China’s nearly 700 mil mobile subscribers. This partnership with China Unicom however, is not exclusive.

“If they don’t offer any subsidies, the price should be around 3,000 yuan ($439.1) per phone,” Liu Bin of Macquarie Capital Securities said. “I estimate in the first year they can get between 1.5 million and two million subscribers.

Well, with quite a number of Chinese iPhone fans – consultancy Ovum estimates around 1 million – already using unlicensed iPhones using their choice of existing GSM networks, I hope Mr. Liu’s prediction will come true. 😉

Source: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/nm/20090828/tc_nm/us_chinaunicom and http://tech.yahoo.com/news/pcworld/20090909/tc_pcworld/chinaclearsiphonefornetworkputspictureonline