[benzinga] China Unicom (CHU), the second largest Chinese wireless carrier, will exit 2009 with roughly 3 million 3G subscribers. The carrier has reportedly added 801,000 customers for its WCDMA technology based 3G services in Nov 2009, bringing its 3G subscriber base to 1.82 million.
China Unicom expects to add around 1.2 million 3G subscribers in Dec 2009 to reach approximately 3 million in the current year. This will represent 20% share of China’s projected 3G user base of 15 million. China Unicom’s bigger rival China Mobile (CHL) is expected to register 5 million customers in 2009 for its 3G services based on the home-grown TD-SCDMA technology.
China Unicom officially commenced the commercial roll-out of its 3G WCDMA services on Oct 1, 2009, across 285 Chinese cities. 3G represents the single biggest driver of the company’s future growth as high-bandwidth advanced data applications are expected to boost revenue per user through increased usage. China Unicom’s 3G network is on track to reach 350 Chinese cities by the end of 2009.
Leveraging its WCDMA network, China Unicom launched Apple Inc’s (AAPL) iPhones in mainland China on Oct 30, 2009 under a three-year agreement. The company has reportedly sold 300,000 units of the device so far in 2009. China Unicom recently revealed that more than 70% iPhone users have signed up for its 3G services under a two-year contract.
Besides boosting the uptake of the 3G WCDMA services, iPhone has offered China Unicom a competitive edge over China Mobile, which is aggressively promoting its Android-based smartphones (called “Ophones").
China Unicom has reportedly launched a multimedia messaging service (“MMS") called “Le Mei" which has been designed to triple the message content capability offered by the Chinese carriers. The new MMS service is already available for 30 3G handsets including those manufactured by Nokia (NOK), Samsung and Sony Ericsson. China Unicom plans to eventually expand the service for more than 200 handsets, including the iPhones.
Unicom's 3G Users to Reach 3M