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Unit sale boosts Unicom profit

NET profit at China Unicom Ltd, which will debut its 3G services in 55 cities nationwide in May, jumped 58 percent year on year, boosted by the sale of a wireless unit to China Telecom Corp Ltd.

The country's No. 2 mobile carrier aims to invest 110 billion yuan (US$16.17 billion), a 56-percent growth year on year, mainly on third generation mobile communications, said its chief executive Chang Xiaobing.

China Unicom's net profit in 2008 was 33.91 billion yuan, or 1.42 yuan a share, from a restated 21.4 billion yuan, or 0.92 yuan, a year earlier. The Beijing-based telco's profit was slightly off the 34.8 billion yuan estimated by analysts. In 2008, the telco also incurred an 11.8-billion-yuan charge on Netcom's citywide cordless service known as Little Smart which will completely stop service by 2011.

China Unicom's profit was attributed through a one-time gain from the sale of a wireless unit to China Telecom under a telecommunications industry reorganization which saw the telco sell its CDMA (code division multiple access) network and business to the latter. China Unicom merged its GSM (global system for mobile communications) business with China Netcom.

China Unicom's revenue was 148.9 billion yuan from a restated 150.7 billion yuan. The telco restated its 2007 earnings to include contributions from China Netcom, which it acquired in October.

China Unicom will launch 3G services based on the WCDMA (wideband CDMA) technology in China, and will likely launch the iPhone 3G, one of the most popular smart phones, in the country.



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