iPhone Heads to China

7:50 AM -- As anticipated, China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) is to be the official distributor of Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iPhone in the world's biggest mobile market. (See ChinaWatch: iPhone Imminent?)

Unicom, which has more than 141 million GSM customers and is currently building out its WCDMA-based 3G network, has struck a three-year deal with Apple and expects to start selling the iconic handset during the fourth quarter of this year.

The news came as Unicom announced revenues of 76.32 billion Yuan Renminbi (US$11.2 billion) for the first six months of 2009.

The carrier also announced that, due to lower than expected rollout costs to date, it will now build out its 3G network to 335 cities this year (up from the original plan of 284 cities) without having to increase its 2009 capex budget. It's still trialing 3G services and plans a full commercial launch before the end of the year. (See Unicom Enters Third Phase and Motorola Wins China Unicom 3G Contract.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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