China Telecom hopes to dial up Blackberry sales in May

09:27, May 18, 2010      

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China Telecom Corp, the country's largest fixed-line operator, said on Monday it's set to begin selling Blackberry handsets on its third-generation (3G) network to government and corporate clients in late May.

"We've done all the tests and are awaiting sales licensing from the top regulator, which will come before the end of May," said Ma Daojie, the carrier's mobile business general manager.

The Blackberry handset line is a product of Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM).

The two companies have introduced Blackberry Storm 9530 smartphones with "push mail", an automatic e-mail transfer function, initially in 16 provinces on Monday, while more models including the 9630 are in the process of being customized for Chinese customers, China Telecom said on Monday.

The retail price of the product is set at 5,680 yuan ($832), but it may be available at a reduced price when bundled with the service, Ma said, without elaborating.

Local media reported earlier that bundle prices would range from 189 to 589 yuan per month, with voice time ranging from about 200 to 1,000 minutes.

China's three mobile telecommunication operators have been striving to lure more customers by teaming up with handset suppliers as competition increased following the launch of 3G business a year earlier.

China Unicom, the country's second-biggest mobile operator, started selling Apple's iPhone last October based on 3G networks. The carrier also began selling Lenovo's smartphone, called LePhone, in 5,200 outlets on Monday.

China Mobile, the world's largest wireless operator, said last December it will offer Blackberry on its homegrown TD-SCDMA network to attract consumers, without giving a detailed timeframe for sales to start.

China Telecom's 3G users totaled 5.57 million by the end of the first quarter, compared with China Unicom's 4.8 million and 7.7 million for China Mobile.

The trio's 3G subscribers in 2009 totaled more than 12.7 million, with a total of 160.9 billion yuan spent on 3G network construction investment.

Blackberry handsets will be distributed through Digital China, the operator said. It estimated that its 3G subscribers will exceed 17 million by the end of this year through its alliance with RIM.

"China Telecom's advantage with government and corporate customers will be consolidated through its cooperation with RIM amid an expected subscriber increase," said Liu Liang, a telecom analyst at market research firm iResearch, adding that the landscape of the sector may shift by the end of 2010 given the active partnership moves by the three.

H-shares of China Telecom sank 2.54 percent to end at HK$3.45 on Monday.

Source: China Daily


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