Feeds

Electro-plaster points China Unicom mobes at 3G

Cunning 2G upgrade is a sticky business

The Power of One Infographic

China Unicom has created a roaming agreement to offload 2G customers, achieved using a carefully placed sticker instead of mucking about with contracts and signed deals.

The trick is accomplished with an electronic plaster that intercepts communication with the SIM, returning details of Unicom's network when data connections are requested and available, but passing 2G requests to the existing operator's SIM. In this way, it provides the customer with 3G speed when possible, and coverage all of the time.

The announcement comes from 91.com, and we're indebted to Penn Olson for the translation and an image showing how the sticker wraps around the customer's existing SIM.

Fitting may be fiddly, but the end result is much the same as happens in the UK with Three. Three only has a 3G network in the UK, and is well off national coverage, so customers drop onto the Orange (2G) network where necessary.

But Three pays Orange for that service, and pays for every call routed over the Orange network. So much so that Three is switching off roaming wherever it can where its 3G network has what it considers to be adequate coverage.

China Unicom has managed to do the same thing, only without signing an agreement with any other operator and expecting the customer to pay for the roamed-to network as well as the subscription with China Unicom, which will be quite a coup if customers go for it.

It's important because China Unicom is (officially) the exclusive operator for the iPhone, but hasn't the national coverage most people need. That lack of coverage has pushed 7.44 million Chinese iPhone owners onto China Mobile's network, where they don't have any 3G at all (due to incompatible 3G standards) but can make and receive calls as well as using GPRS for their data.

Fit the sticker, which comes in SIM and Micro SIM versions, and one's iPhone will attach to China Unicom's 3G network when it's available, dropping back to China Telecom (and 2G connectivity) everywhere else.

One still has to arrange to have calls forwarded to China Unicom when the phone is on that network, which the operator claims isn't a problem though it admits that text messaging is not seamless. But for pure innovative cleverness it's remarkable, showing (if nothing else) that the Chinese aren't limited to copying ideas developed elsewhere. ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.