China Unicom is partnering with Tencent to introduce a new SIM card for the OTT player’s popular WeChat IM service next month.
The SIM card - a collaboration between Tencent and the Guangdong provincial branch of Unicom - will include an independent data package for WeChat and all of its related services.
A promo page for the pending package on Tencent’s e-commerce site says the “WeChat-Wo” card will begin selling on August 8 in Guangdong province, and allows users to have more data volume and access to WeChat’s free messaging service as well internal video, game and music services.
The page doesn’t reveal how much the plan will cost, but mainland media suggest it will be available for 36 yuan ($5.90).
The partnership, which is the first of its kind in China, comes months after Tencent said it has found “preliminary solutions” to resolve the WeChat issue with the three state-owned mobile carriers, which had demanded compensation for the use of their networks by the mobile messaging service.
It also signals an increasing trend of cellcos cooperating with internet players as a strategy to minimize the revenue disruption caused by OTT services.
Meanwhile, Unicom said it signed up 4.1 million new 3G customers in June, up 3.2% from May, and taking its 3G subscriber base to over 100 million.
The company said the 100-million milestone was reached after four years of operation of 3G. Unicom launched its W-CDMA network in 2009, which now covers all cities across the country with 331,000 base stations. All of the 3G base stations have been upgraded to HSPA+, supporting a downlink of 21Mbps. The company plans to upgrade the 3G network in major cities and provinces, like Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangdong, to support the downlink to up to 42Mbps.