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China Unicom Launches 3G Pre-commercialization

On May 17th, the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, as Mr. Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China Unicom, inserted a huge 3G USIM card into a huge 3G terminal, the long-awaited 3G services of China Unicom was pre-commercialized. Mr. Zuo Xunsheng, vice president of China Unicom officially announced at the Press Conference for the Pre-commercialization of 3G Services that the friendly user experience program for pre-commercialized 3G services was launched in 55 cities. It will be expanded to 284 cities by the end of September. By the end of the year, 3G services will be formally commercialized in these 284 cities.

On January 7 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a 3G license to China Unicom for the operation of 3G business. China Unicom immediately launched equipment procurement, network construction, business planning, brand marketing, terminal customization and other work. Before May 17, the preparations for the pre-commercialization of 3G services in the 55 cities had been completed in terms of network construction, network commissioning, and service verification. It was learned that despite the fact that China Unicom is the last operator in China to pre-commercialize 3G services, its WCDMA network are the most widely deployed 3G network in the world with the largest use base and the most mature value chain. This created conditions for the fast rollout of 3G network and business deployment.

Mr. Zuo Xunsheng indicated in his speech that China Unicom is determined to build a high-quality WCDMA network, capture leading edges in network, service and quality of service, provide users with  the "best in Wo" experience and open a more colorful era of 3G services.

It is reported that China Unicom introduced 6 types of 3G services during the 5.17 pre-commercialization phase, namely mobile Internet, mobile music, mobile TV, video telephony, phone news and wireless Internet access cards. The uplink and downlink peak rates of wireless internet access card are 5.76Mbps and 7.2Mbps respectively, being the fastest among the same type of products in the market.

According to Xie Guoqing, General Manager of the Department of Personal Communications, China Unicom, with users' needs in mind, was the first to introduce the "automatic upgrade of packages" billing model for the wireless Internet access card. If the a user consumes more than what the original package allows and the usage fee for the exceeding traffic plus the monthly fee for the original package reach the level of next package, the original package can be upgraded automatically to the next grade. Therefore, users may consume more traffic and gain more benefits.

According to Xie, China Unicom also introduced the "M/T" billing unit for 3G value-added services. A unified billing unit and method will be adopted for the multimedia or text contents in the 3G mobile phone portal. This billing model has completely changed the billing model for value-added services in the 2G era, when communication fees and information fees were charged separately. China Unicom adopted a unified content fee model. The user will have a clear knowledge of their expense on value-added services. The fee shall be calculated according to the usage of multimedia content service (which is represented by M, including streaming graphics, audio, video, application software downloading, streaming media play and other multimedia services) and the text content service (which is represented by T, including text-based browsing and download, such as news browsing and text downloading).

China Unicom also announced at the press conference that with the pre-commercialization of 3G services, China Unicom will introduce more than 20 customized WCDMA terminal models in May, including Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Huawei, ZTE and other domestic and foreign well-known cell phone manufacturers. By the end of June, China Unicom will introduce more than additional 10 new customized terminal models, which will be mainly the products of Nokia, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, LG, Sharp, Philips and other leading international mobile phone manufacturers.

According to the head of the Department of Personal Communications, by the end of August, China Unicom will invite friendly experience users in the 55 cities to test the quality of network, operation and service. In order to reward the support and participation of friendly experience users, China Unicom will offer a 50 percent discount on its 3G communications fee (excluding international roaming and international long-distance charges). The users may also have a chance to participate in the lucky draw programme if they complete experience reports on a regular basis.

Through 3G terminal show, 3G service sitcom, interactive experience and other interesting activities at the press conference, China Unicom demonstrated its 3G terminals and services to the participating guests, journalists and some friendly experience users. Other executives of the Company attending the press conferences include Li Jianguo, Zhao Jidong, Li Fushen, Li Gang, Zhang Jun'an, and Jiang Zhengxin.

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