China Unicom, formally known as China United Network Communications Group Co., Ltd., is a state-owned telecommunications operator in China. The company was established in 1994 as a state-owned enterprise by the Ministry of Railways, the Ministry of Electronics and the Ministry of Electric Power Industry, with approval from the State Council. It initially started as a wireless paging and GSM mobile operator and has since evolved to provide a range of services including mobile network, long-distance, local calling, data communication, Internet services, and IP telephony. In terms of corporate ownership, China Unicom underwent an initial public offering (IPO) in 2000 through a subsidiary, China Unicom Hong Kong, which was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The intermediate parent company, China Unicom (BVI) Limited, owned 77.47% shares of China Unicom (H.K). In 2002, another intermediate parent company, China United Network Communications Limited, was established to own a 51% stake of China Unicom (BVI) Limited and list the shares on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
China Unicom 4G Network
China Unicom commercially launched LTE services in B40 (2300 MHz) and B41 (2500 MHz in March 2014, holding a total of 40 MHz of TDD spectrum. The company secured FDD licences in August 2014 and subsequently launched B3 (1800 MHz) FDD LTE. A B8 (900 MHz) FDD LTE network was implemented in selected regions.
LTE-A 3C carrier aggregation was implemented December 2015 providing in excess of 300 Mbps peak DL data rates. The company has since trialled LTE-Advanced Pro Massive MIMO technology using 20 MHz of FDD spectrum achieving peak download throughput of 697.3 Mbps, and leveraging its partnership with Ericsson launched a Gigabit LTE-A Pro network in August 2017. The company was required to vacate its 2500 MHz spectrum for the country's 5G licencing.
China Unicom achieved national coverage with its NB-IoT network in May 2018. The company has also been experimenting with eMTC (LTE Cat-M1) and Cat-M1 VoLTE IoT technologies.
China Unicom 5G Network
In December 2018 China Unicom received 5G test frequencies from 3500 to 3600 MHz (100 MHz total). In January 2019 the company achieved its first 5G data call in partnership with ZTE. The company opened a 5G test network across 40 cities in April 2019.
In a September 2019 agreement, China Unicom and China Telecom made the decision to share the construction of base stations in 24 cities. China Unicom advised its plans to build 40,000 5G base stations by the end of 2019. China Unicom's 5G network went live on the 1st November 2019.
In November 2022 the company expanded its network using refarmed 904-915MHz and 949-960MHz spectrum.