Electro-plaster points China Unicom mobes at 3G

Cunning 2G upgrade is a sticky business


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 requested and available, but passing 2G requests to the existing operator's SIM. In this way, it provides the customer with 3G speed when possible, and coverage all of the time.

The announcement comes from 91.com, and we're indebted to Penn Olson for the translation and an image showing how the sticker wraps around the customer's existing SIM.

Fitting may be fiddly, but the end result is much the same as happens in the UK with Three. Three only has a 3G network in the UK, and is well off national coverage, so customers drop onto the Orange (2G) network where necessary.

But Three pays Orange for that service, and pays for every call routed over the Orange network. So much so that Three is switching off roaming wherever it can where its 3G network has what it considers to be adequate coverage.

China Unicom has managed to do the same thing, only without signing an agreement with any other operator and expecting the customer to pay for the roamed-to network as well as the subscription with China Unicom, which will be quite a coup if customers go for it.

It's important because China Unicom is (officially) the exclusive operator for the iPhone, but hasn't the national coverage most people need. That lack of coverage has pushed 7.44 million Chinese iPhone owners onto China Mobile's network, where they don't have any 3G at all (due to incompatible 3G standards) but can make and receive calls as well as using GPRS for their data.

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.

One still has to arrange to have calls forwarded to China Unicom when the phone is on that network, which the operator claims isn't a problem though it admits that text messaging is not seamless. But for pure innovative cleverness it's remarkable, showing (if nothing else) that the Chinese aren't limited to copying ideas developed elsewhere. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • How to keep a support contract: Make the user think they solved the problem

    Look what you found! Aren't you clever!

    On Call Let us take a little trip back to the days before the PC, when terminals ruled supreme, to find that the more things change the more they stay the same. Welcome to On Call.

    Today's story comes from "Keith" (not his name) and concerns the rage of a user whose expensive terminal would crash once a day, pretty much at the same time.

    The terminal in question was a TAB 132/15. It was an impressive bit of kit for the time and was capable of displaying 132 characters of crisp, green text on a 15-inch CRT housed in a futuristic plastic case. Luxury for sure, unless one was the financial trader trying to use the device.

    Continue reading
  • Apple kicked an M1-shaped hole in Intel's quarter

    Chipzilla braces for a China-gaming-ban-shaped hole in future results, predicts more product delays

    Intel has blamed Apple's switch to its own M1 silicon in Macs for a dip in sales at its client computing group, and foreshadowed future unpleasantness caused by supply chain issues and China's recent internet crackdowns.

    Chipzilla's finances were robust for the third quarter of its financial year: revenue of $19.2 billion was up five per cent year over year, while net income of $6.8 billion was up 60 per cent compared to 2020's Q3.

    But revenue for the client computing group was down two points. CFO George Davis – whose retirement was announced today – was at pains to point out that were it not for Apple quitting Intel silicon and Chipzilla exiting the modem business, client-related revenue would have risen ten per cent.

    Continue reading
  • How your phone, laptop, or watch can be tracked by their Bluetooth transmissions

    Unique fingerprints lurk in radio signals more often than not, it seems

    Over the past few years, mobile devices have become increasingly chatty over the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol and this turns out to be a somewhat significant privacy risk.

    Seven boffins at University of California San Diego – Hadi Givehchian, Nishant Bhaskar, Eliana Rodriguez Herrera, Héctor Rodrigo López Soto, Christian Dameff, Dinesh Bharadia, and Aaron Schulman – tested the BLE implementations on several popular phones, PCs, and gadgets, and found they can be tracked through their physical signaling characteristics albeit with intermittent success.

    That means the devices may emit a unique fingerprint, meaning it's possible to look out for those fingerprints in multiple locations to figure out where those devices have been and when. This could be used to track people; you'll have to use your imagination to determine who would or could usefully exploit this. That said, at least two members of the team believe it's worth product makers addressing this privacy weakness.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021