According to a report in China Business Times, China Unicom subsidiary Shanghai Unicom has announced that they will allow all “unofficial” (grey-market) iPhone owners to sign up for services. This amnesty program is designed to entice some 1.5 million grey-market iPhone owners in China to sign a contract and pop in a Unicom 3G sim card to take advantage of WCDMA 3G speeds and a variety of new “Wo” 3G services. The “upgrade to 3G” program is no doubt aimed squarely at the approximate 1,000,000+ iPhones now running on China Mobile’s EDGE 2G network.
According to Shanghai Unicom sources, the amnesty to grey-market iPhones will be extended to all China Unicom subsidiary customers later this month.
This grey-market amnesty program is a no-brainer. China Unicom would of course prefer that you retire your older gen iPhone and buy one of the new official “built for China” iPhones. Yet they would stand to lose significant business if they turned away customers who’ve already acquired iPhones in Hong Kong or through grey-market channels in China. Hence, China Unicom is welcoming existing grey-market iPhone owners to come aboard with their new Wo 3G services.
At least half of the current 1.5 million grey-market iPhones in China are 3G models that can run on WCDMA (China Unicom’s 3G network) and all iPhone models (gen one, two and three) can run on China Unicom’s GPRS (2G) or China Mobile’s EDGE 2G.