China’s second largest mobile services operator, China Unicom, is offering free wifi until the end of March for its customers in the hopes of expanding its 3G-subscriber base and finding other ways to promote its brand.
Users can access the free wifi by sending a text message to the China Unicom service hotline. They will then receive log-in details for unlimited internet access and data transfer.
This move is part of China Unicom’s attempt to tap into the growing demand for 3G data plans and recover the ground that it lost to its competitors China Mobile and China Telecom.
At the end of last year, the firm had to slash its 3G contract prices to lure more customers. Contract prices went from a minimum of 96 RMB (US$14) a month to 46 RMB (US$7) a month because the company was losing 3G users to China Mobile, which saw the addition of 1.7 million subscribers in October 2010 alone.
Furthermore, the firm is also appealing to frequent flyers by widening its roaming services. It is offering roaming data packages for customers visiting Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, with a maximum roaming service fee of 150 RMB (US$22).
Finally, China Unicom plans to set up more wifi hotspots around the nation in response to China Mobile and China Telecom’s aggressive expansion of hotspots. By the end of 2009, China Telecom had set up more than 100,000 wifi spots and China Mobile had set up more than 90,000, while China Unicom had only 25,000.