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Thursday, December 02, 1999, updated at 14:14(GMT+8)
Sci-Tech 'Witty' phone debut in Xi'an

More than 2,000 people converged yesterday at Xi'an Telecom in the early hours of a cold misty winter morning, waiting for the debut of a mobile communications gadget in the Chinese market, according to report of China Daily on December 2.

The gadget, named "Witty Phone" by Xi'an Telecom, works as a kind of mobile phone within the city proper, officials said. But it costs less and is thinner than ordinary mobiles.

The company has invested 600 million yuan (US$72 million) in four months to extend the current telephone communication network for the Witty.

"Introducing the citizen-friendly Witty is our local strategy to come back against our competitors," said Li Juyi, chairman of Xi'an Telecom.

The US-based UT Starcom is the only supplier of the Witty Phone in Xi'an. But the Witty loses its wit beyond the city area of 120 square kilometre.

Limited as it is, the money-friendly gadget still won surprising popularity in the city.

A local call will cost Witty subscribers 0.2 yuan (2 US cents) every three minutes and answering a call on the Witty is totally free, according to current regulations released by Xi'an Telecom.

"The Witty's popularity has urged us to forge a user-friendly price system to survive the market," said Huo Zhicheng, chairman of Xi'an Mobile.

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