China United Telecommunications Corporation (China Unicom), the country's second-largest mobile operator yesterday officially announced its dual-mode mobile phone service, which displays several differences from its rival China Mobile's service.

"We are very confident about the new service as the dual-mode handset provides a new communications experience for both our CDMA and GSM subscribers," said Wang Jianzhou, president of China Unicom. Under the brand name of "World Wind," the dual-mode mobile phone service supporting both GSM and CDMA (code division multiple access) networks enables users to transfer from GSM and CDMA networks automatically. China Unicom is only telecom operator that runs the two different networks.

Analysts say they believe that the new service will be an effective way for China Unicom to compete against China Mobile, which commands about two-thirds of the country's mobile subscribers.

Yu Yingtao, deputy general manager of China Unicom's Marketing Department, said the sales of dual mode handsets will be launched simultaneously today across China. To increase the sales of the dual-mode handset, China Unicom has worked out three promotion packages for its subscribers. Users within a province will be charged only for local calls and there will be no charges for long distance calls or roaming services between different cities within a province. The fees for such local calls, which are different between provinces, will be 20 or 30 per cent higher compared to current local call charges. Also, subscribers can obtain dual-mode handsets via leasing services. By depositing almost twice the price of the handsets as telecommunications fees, subscribers are able to get a dual-mode handset for free.


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