Mobile phone users get way to stay local

By CECILY LIU | China Daily UK | Updated: 2016-12-06 18:20

Phone company China Unicom has launched a one-SIM-multiple-number service for the UK, riding a wave of innovations to target the huge number of Chinese businesspeople and students in Britain.

The new service, called CUniq, allows customers to use a single phone for local calls in both the UK and China by flipping between a UK local number and a China local number, thus avoiding roaming charges, or the need to physically replace mobile SIM cards when travelling.

"This service launch marks the milestone of China Unicom to go global and indicates acceleration of the company to extend its presence around the world," said Jiang Zhengxin, senior vice-president of China Unicom.

CUniq's launch follows China Telecom's launch of a one-SIM-multiple-number in 2012, which has already seen sales of about 20,000 in London and 20,000 in Paris.

Ben Little, co-founder of UK-based innovation consultancy Fearlessly Frank, said the multiple-number services show Chinese telecom firms are embracing customer-focused innovation.

"Traditionally, telecommunications firms are more concerned with network infrastructure and ensuring connectivity and have left customer-centric innovation to handset manufacturers, but this is now changing," Little said.

Handset manufacturers, including HTC and Samsung, introduced phones with two SIM slots as early as 2012 to cater to business travelers.

The CUniq service can carry local numbers for both the UK and China but will add other countries in future. It offers data allowance in 45 countries and regions and round-the-clock customer support in both English and Chinese.

The service is running on a trial basis but will officially launch in the UK on Feb 14.

The service runs on China Unicom's network in China, and on the O2 network in the UK.

Michael Charlton, managing director of the UK's Department of International Trade and Investment, said:"We are delighted China Unicom has chosen the UK to invest, We're delighted that this investment continues."

Zhu Qin, a minister at the Chinese Embassy in London, added that China Unicom's commitment to the UK market shows the fundamentals of China-UK relations have remained unchanged, despite Brexit uncertainties, and that China and the UK are working together to explore new possibilities.

CUniq's launch coincided with a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of China Unicom expanding into Europe by establishing an office in the UK. More recently, China Unicom opened an office in Germany in 2013, followed by offices in Russia and Switzerland this year.

China Unicom is headquartered in Hong Kong and has 28 branches globally.

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