A representative from China Unicom (CHU) has disclosed to local media that China Unicom will formally launch GPRS service in no less than 50 cities across China at 'an appropriate time' this year.

Tong Xiaoyu, general manager of China Unicom's value-added service department, had disclosed at the end of 2006 that starting in 2007, China Unicom would take the lead promoting GPRS service in 65 to 100 cities in China and gradually launch value-added services like WAP, Java and MMS.

The report says that Beijing Unicom, one of China Unicom's subsidiaries, already launched GPRS limited value-added service in the Beijing area around the Spring Festival holiday this year and is planning to put it into wide-spread commercial use very soon. In addition, Shanghai Unicom, another affiliate of China Unicom, also upgraded its GSM network to GPRS at the end of last year and the related value-added services have already been opened on a trial basis.

In 2005, China Unicom upgraded its GSM network in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen to the GPRS network. In 2006, it invested as much as CNY18 billion to completely transform and upgrade the GPRS network in other cites of China.

Besides launching the GPRS value-added services, China Unicom says it will also begin to make major adjustments to its policies regarding service providers. This could include altering their share of the revenue generated from the services.

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