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Blackberry Mobility Featured Article

March 08, 2010

China Unicom to Bring WiFi-enabled iPhones to Subscribers

By Patrick Barnard, Group Managing Editor, TMCnet

China Unicom (News - Alert), the second largest wireless carrier in China, is reportedly planning to bring a WiFi (News - Alert)-enabled version of Apple’s iPhone to its customers.

The carrier already offers the iPhone and has sold about 300,000 units – but under an earlier mandate by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), Apple (News - Alert) and China Unicom had to disable the WiFi function.

Uptake of the iPhone has been slow in China due to its high price tag in the country (something north of $1,000) as well as the fact that it does not come with WiFi.

Last April, however, the MIIT revised the regulation and now allows WiFi on the iPhone (News - Alert) as long as it also includes WAPI, a Chinese wireless broadband standard.

Subscribers which already purchased iPhones without WiFi will be compensated by China Unicom by giving them greater access to its 3G network.

Now it’s just a question of how long it will take for Apple ship iPhones with both WiFi and WAPI installed. In addition Apple and China Unicom will have to figure out a way to bring down the cost of the iPhone for subscribers – that is, if China Unicom really intends sell 5 million units, as it has stated.

No specific timeline for the launch has been announced.

Patrick Barnard is a senior Web editor for TMCnet, covering call and contact center technologies. He also compiles and regularly contributes to TMCnet e-Newsletters in the areas of robotics, IT, M2M, OCS and customer interaction solutions. To read more of Patrick's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Patrick Barnard

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