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Video calls test Unicom

PROGRESS on China Unicom's WCDMA network is on track as more than 20 cities have carried out a series of video call tests which are seen as key in a third-generation network, telecommunications equipment makers said yesterday.

The tests carried out over a period of time signaled a faster pace for China Unicom's 3G ambitions as the telco plans to invest 100 billion yuan (US$14.7 billion) on its 3G network this year so as to be ready to start 3G services based on WCDMA (wideband code division multiple access) technology in May.

The most recent video call on the WCDMA network, which is on trial in more than 20 cities, including Shanghai and Guangzhou, was made recently in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province. Before this, similar video calls were made in Shanghai and Guangzhou, said Nokia Siemens, one of the equipment suppliers.

China Unicom is set to finish building its 3G network in 55 cities in the first half of the year and in 282 cities by the year-end, Chang Xiaobin, its chairman, said last month.

"Both China Unicom and consumers have high expectations of WCDMA and network quality because of the technology's wide popularity worldwide," said Sandy Shen, an analyst at Gartner Inc, a United States-based IT consulting firm.

The WCDMA is the most commercially mature 3G technology as it has been widely adopted worldwide. Therefore, many popular overseas phones support WCDMA, including the iPhone 3G, Nokia's N96, N82, E71 and E66 and Samsung F480 and i900.

In January, China issued 3G licenses based on the other two technologies to China Mobile and China Telecom. China Mobile has launched 3G services based on the home-developed TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous CDMA). China Telecom started trial use of 3G services based on CDMA 2000 in several cities, including Shanghai.

The 3G technology allows users to enjoy many high-speed services, including video calls and conferences as well as film downloads, on their mobile phones.



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