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 …
A couple of details.
>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.
Dropping back to China Mobile's 2G network, actually. China Telecom is a CDMA operator.
Another issue here is that there is no number portability in China, and most customers use China Mobile's 2G network. This is as much a hack to allow customers on China Mobile to use an iPhone without changing their number as it is about coverage. And as such it is quite clever.
3G or not to 3G
I have lived in china a long time, for data on my laptop the choice was China Telecom CDMA or China Unicom equivalent.
Recently a dongle came out that accepted a 3G Unicom sim ( and dropped back to 2G if 3G wasn't available ), so at considerable expanse I bought one, itching for the 7.2mbit speed that China Unicom touted on their shop windows.
Well, thanks to all the Apple Fanbois, and probably not enough cell coverage it works out at 1mbit download and 100Kbit upload ! BITS not BYTES, around 60k BYTES top speed, that's a very sorry comparison when it should be up around 600K BYTES.
I switched the dongle back to China Telecom CDMA 2X and it was way faster than China Unicom 3G !!!
I also have an "international" smartphone, (you know - one of those where the lock screen password really locks it, and bluetooth follows the international standard where it can talk to other phones ( Unlike any Iphone/pad etc etc ))
BUT it won't work on China Mobiles 3G , works fine on China Unicom 3G and China Telecoms 3G, and almost every where else on the planet..
The result is that I will never buy a China Mobile 3G handset because it will only work here in China.
So, it's a smart answer, but is it the correct answer ? Sadly I think the Apple owners are going to be happy about this ( despite China Unicom sending kill pills to many handsets when customers took out the Unicom sim and put in a CM sim :) , public outcry and loss of sales seems to have fixed this issue ) and jam up the China Unicom spectrum so much that there will be even less bandwidth available.
There are other downsides, China Telecom "downgrades" traffic priority if its external to it's own IP network and originates in China. So, China Unicom users accessing a portal in China whose ISP is China Telecom suffers, and I have no doubt it happens the other way too, I just haven't measured it yet.
I don't want an Iphone, if I won one I would recycle it with extreme violence, my friend has one, he wants someone to buy it from him so he can get something else, and that's a common viewpoint now that many phones are as capable and "pretty" as an Iphone and for far far less money, and of course, if I travel anywhere, it won't have a 3G capability.
I'll stick with technology that is more world wide than just one country, maybe that's because I travel and don't need 10 phones for 10 countries, so even though someone not an Apple user, a 2G china telecom with data over China unicom would appeal and would give my smartphone data a boost over China Mobile but not as good as switching completely to Chinas Unicom or China Telecom ( minority service providers )
I have a Chinese Android dual sim phone. It's really good in that I can have two sims from two operators in it and choose which sim to use for data and which for calls only. It works for me here in Australia with one sim from Amaysim and the other Telstra, so I get good coverage with Telstra and cheap calls and data with Amaysim over the Optus network. Maybe that's the way to go in China, but of course no good if you are an Iphone user.