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CDMA 1X Network Activated
China Unicom, the country's second largest mobile carrier, plans to take advantage of its newly-launched CDMA (code division multiple access) 1X network to consolidate its position in the world's most populous market.

Wang Jianzhou, president of China Unicom, announced on Friday in Beijing the completion of its CDMA 1X network and the initiation of trial operations in major cities around the country.

"It's a milestone for us. The event marks our progress to the 2.5 generation of mobile telecommunications," Wang said.

CDMA 1X is to provide mobile phone subscribers with more value-added services such as video and photo e-mails and high-speed wireless Internet access.

The company started upgrading its CDMA network from 2G (second-generation mobile telecommunications) to 2.5G, or CDMA 1X, during the second quarter of last year.

With the theme, "everything is going to change," China Unicom on Friday unveiled five brand new businesses based on the CDMA 1X network, including a colorful multi-media e-mail service, broadband service, interactive communications based on WAP (wireless application protocol), BREW (Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless) and Java technologies and gps One (Global Positioning System) service.

The company has established the brand name "U-Max" to operate the new 2.5 generation services.

According to Wang, "U" stands for Unicom while "Max" is derived from the words maximum, maximal and maximize.

Analysts believe the CDMA 1X will have a positive impact on the growth of wireless data usage and increase China Unicom's average revenue per user, or ARPU, a widely watched industry barometer.

With CDMA 1X, they said, China Unicom will strengthen its position, grabbing a share of the market from major competitor China Mobile.

China Mobile kicked off its "Mobile-Zone" service early this month to attract younger mobile phone subscribers with a cheap short message service.

Both China Unicom and its rival China Mobile spent much of 2002 in a war for market share, sacrificing profits by offering subsidies and other promotions to build business.

To ensure the fast development of its data business, China Unicom also clinched a contract with South Korea Telecom in March to build up a joint venture focusing on value-added wireless Internet business based on China Unicom's CDMA 1X network.

(China Daily March 31, 2003)

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