RIM Too Busy to Work With China Unicom, Exec Says

Research In Motion (RIM) is too busy with its existing partners in China to partner with China Unicom, according to the company's top executive in China.

RIM has already partnered with two of China's three mobile carriers, China Mobile and China Telecom. Li Gang, a vice president at China Unicom, recently told Chinese media that China Unicom would launch a BlackBerry handset this year but it's not clear if that will happen.

RIM "already has its hands full" working with China Mobile and China Telecom, said Gregory Shea, corporate vice president and managing director of RIM China, noting that China Mobile runs the world's largest GSM network and China Telecom will soon have the world's largest CDMA network.

At the end of April, China Mobile had 544.2 million customers while China Telecom had 64.5 million mobile subscribers, according to company figures. China Unicom had about 153 million mobile subscribers.

RIM has worked with China Mobile since 2006 and announced a tie-up with China Telecom earlier this month. As part of that deal, China Telecom will sell RIM's BlackBerry Storm for use on its CDMA2000 3G network. China Mobile, which operates a 3G network based on China's homegrown standard, TD-SCDMA (Time Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), doesn't yet offer a 3G BlackBerry handset.

However, RIM has announced plans to make BlackBerry handset that will work with China Mobile's TD-SCDMA network. When that will be released remains unclear. Shea declined to give a timeline for the launch of a TD-SCDMA handset, but said that the project is "progressing well."

Last year, RIM and China Mobile also announced plans for handset that will support TD-LTE, a 4G mobile technology now being developed in China. Discussions between the two companies related to that phone are ongoing, Shea said.

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