China Unicom launches revamped Internet plan

Updated: 2011-12-09 09:31

By Shen Jingting (China Daily)

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The carrier announces alliance with 31 industry rivals, including Baidu

BEIJING - China United Network Communications Group Co Ltd, also known as China Unicom, the parent company of the nation's second-largest telecom operator, has jumped ahead of its domestic rivals by announcing an overall mobile Internet strategy.

China Unicom launches revamped Internet plan

China Unicom's booth at an exhibition in Beijing. The company announced a mobile Internet alliance on Thursday with 31 industry partners, including Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group.[Photo/China Daily] 

The company launched the "Wo-plus Opening System" on Thursday. The system will provide users with easy access to mobile Internet applications, allow developers to share the company's resources, provide effective application marketing both on and offline, and construct "smart pipes" to allow the precise allocation of network resources.

China Unicom also announced a mobile Internet alliance with 31 industry partners, including Baidu Inc, Alibaba Group, Huawei Technologies Co and the Spanish telecom company Telefonica SA.

"China Unicom wants to show its determination and confidence in open cooperation," said Chang Xiaobing, chairman of China Unicom, at the 2011 China Unicom Mobile Internet Application Industry Summit in Beijing on Thursday.

In order to be better prepared for the challenges arising from the mobile Internet era, Chang added that China Unicom will constantly add new members to the alliance, increase the number of applications and raise its servicing abilities.

China had the world's biggest mobile population by October (964 million people), and more than 110 million mobile users have subscribed to third-generation (3G) services, according to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

China Unicom said the subscriber base for its 3G services increased to 33.15 million in October. The carrier's number of newly added 3G users in the first 10 months was 19.1 million, still lower than its target for additions of 25 million by the end of the year.

China Mobile Ltd, the biggest Chinese telecom carrier, had 45.3 million 3G subscribers in the same period, while China Telecom Corp Ltd, the nation's smallest player, gained 31.2 million.

"Coupled with the rapid development of the 3G business, China has already embraced the mobile Internet era," said Zhang Xinsheng, deputy head of the telecom bureau at MIIT. In the first half of this year, the number of mobile "netizens" in China reached 318 million, accounting for 65.5 percent of the country's total Internet population.

All three of China's major operators have expressed plans to take advantage of mobile Internet era. They have constructed mobile application stores, established cloud-computing centers and even launched instant messaging tools.

China Mobile's Mobile Market is the world's first mobile phone application store set up by a telecom operator. Since it was launched in August 2009, the number of applications on offer has grown to more than 100,000, a far cry from a relatively meager 1,218 two years ago.

Wostore, the application store introduced by China Unicom 12 months ago, has 3 million registered users and had 16,000 applications by November, by which time there had been 60 million downloads.

"China Unicom still holds a weapon - Apple Inc's iPhone series. But the exclusive benefit could fade away when the other carriers catch up," said Ji Chendong, an analyst with the research firm Frost & Sullivan. China Unicom is Apple's only official Chinese partner and introduced iPhone devices to the country in 2009.

Yu Yingtao, general manager of China Unicom's marketing and sales department, told in November that the carrier is prepared to introduce the iPhone 4S and is only waiting for its network access certificate from authorities.