Yu Ying Tao, General Manager of Unicom Huasheng Telecommunications Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. vsens.com China Unicom’s handset distribution entity), met with the press on December 10th, and delivered up several noteworthy items. First Mr. Tao confirmed that China Unicom had sold 100,000 iPhones in the first 40 days since launch. He also countered concerns over the lack of WiFi on the official iPhone by revealing China Unicom’s plans to market a femtocell device. A femtocell is a mini wireless base-station that puts out a broadband (fast) signal covering a zone of some 20 to 30 meters (for family or small business use). China Unicom 3G subscribers can make mobile calls and surf the net via this femtocell, bypassing the normal 3G signal. Calls/surfing via the femtocell will not count against the subscribers monthly calling minutes or data usage. The new device will be called the “Palm device” (English translation). Yes, China Unicom should reconsider that name, but their intension is good. The device will not be free …“only a small monthly fee.” Yu Ying Tao made it clear that iPhones would be able to use this femtocell to make calls and surf the net.
Now for the big news … Yu Ying Tao revealed that China Unicom and Apple are working together to develop an iPhone that supports both (integrated together) the Wi-Fi standard and the domestic (China built) wireless LAN authentication and privacy infrastructure (WAPI) standard. This confirms rumors that a WAPI/WiFi iPhone for China is on the drawing board. Yu Yin Tao declined to provide any timetable for production of this model.
This is not the first time Yu Ying Tao has shared info relating to a WAPI/WiFi iPhone. See > Oct 9, 2009 iPhonAsia post