China Telecom to Sell First 3G Blackberry in China

China Telecom will begin selling the Blackberry Storm 9530 this month, the first 3G Blackberry device that will go on sale officially in the country.

China Telecom hopes the 3G phone will give it an edge over its rival China Mobile, which has been selling Blackberry phones in the country since 2006 but does not yet have a 3G Blackberry offering.

The 3G devices have already arrived in the country and are making their way into stores now, China Telecom spokesman Xu Fei said via e-mail.

"Last year when we were talking with RIM, the Storm 9530 was considered to be on the high-end. It was a new device and so that's why we chose it," he said.

The phone is being sold only to government and corporate clients. It will be offered in 16 Chinese provinces.

Several local news reports said the phone will retail for 4,560 renminbi (US$672), though Xu could not confirm that figure. He said China Telecom will sell the phone with monthly packages ranging from 189 renminbi to 589 renminbi.

China Telecom has been working with Blackberry developer Research In Motion to sell its devices in the country. A spokeswoman for RIM would say only that the company hopes to see more of its phones enter the Chinese market.

China Mobile now faces more competition in the Blackberry market. China Mobile's prices were higher and its phones less up to date than the 9530, according to Flora Wu, a principal analyst at technology consultancy BDA.

"(China Telecom's) Storm is the more up to date model," she said. "And the price is almost half of what China Mobile used to offer."

China Mobile could not immediately be reached for comment.

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