According to reports in China’s tech media, China Unicom will target growth in 3G subscribers at 20 to 30 million in the 12 months following the new 3G WCDMA network launch (trial launch began on May 17, 2009). China Unicom’s new WCDMA 3G network currently operates at 7.2Mbps but the network can support speeds of up to 14.4Mbps. That’s much faster that 2G and significantly faster than AT&T’s 3G speeds in the US, which top out at 7.2Mbps.
163.com is quoting China Unicom Vice President Zhang Jun’an (June 2nd): “Unicom will need to procure more than 30 million 3G handsets as people will need to replace 2G handsets.”
To help spur interest in WCDMA, and 3G handsets, China Unicom made a “consumer friendly” move by canceling roaming charges and ending their national (long distance) calling charges. This move, announced earlier this week, has been widely applauded by China Unicom subscribers. China Unicom has also unveiled new 3G rate plans for low, middle and high-end consumers.
iPhonAsia is expecting the formal Apple/China Unicom deal announcement within weeks if not days (WWDC Keynote or a “special event” soon thereafter). Likely launch date? Mid-July or later this summer.
iPhonAsia believes that Apple has arranged to sell a large quantity of new model iPhones (special production run for China) to China Unicom’s Vsens.com division. It was no coincidence that Yu Yingtao, head of China Unicom’s handset management center and its procurement subsidiary (Vsens.com) was a key member of the China Unicom delegation that met with Apple in Cupertino March 8th through the 18th. Much more on these negotiations > HERE
How many current and new China Unicom customers will upgrade their handsets to an official iPhone? Inquiring minds want to know … Get that crystal ball out and make your predictions.