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November 27, 2009

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3G global roaming charges cut

CHINA Unicom, which debuted the iPhone 3G and 3GS models last month in the domestic market, has cut international roaming fees for all 3G, or third generation, cell phones from this month as it competes for high-end subscribers with bigger rival China Mobile, the country's No. 2 telco said yesterday.

Of the 27 countries and overseas regions like the United States and Hong Kong where Chinese mainlanders visit most often, it said its roaming charges are lower than China Mobile's in 23 of them.

"It's the best time for China Unicom to catch up with China Mobile on 3G and the roaming charges are a powerful weapon," said Fu Liang, an independent telecommunications analyst.

China Unicom charges users 3.88 yuan to 5.88 yuan (57 US cents to 86 US cents) per minute for each received call overseas, while China Mobile charges 5.99 yuan.

The wide range of applications available under the WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) technology, which China Unicom is using, has helped it negotiate with global carriers on fee reducing, the telco said.

Globally, 70 percent of more than 400 million people use the WCDMA 3G networks, said iSuppli, a US-based IT research firm.

By the end of September, China Unicom's users rose by 9.4 million to 142.8 million and are set to climb to 200 million in 2013, iSuppli said.



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