China's operators move ahead with restructuring

China's operators are moving ahead with the country's planned restructuring of the telecoms sector, swapping assets and making acquisitions via agreements worth billions. China Unicom announced China Telecommunications Corp. is purchasing Unicom's CDMA business for about $15.9 billion, creating one of the world's largest operators with more than 43 million CDMA customers and more than 216.3 million fixed-line subscribers, including 38.4 million broadband customers.

In a deal valued at $56.3 billion, Unicom is also merging its GSM business, which supports about 125.4 million subscribers, with fixed-line operator China Netcom, an operator that has about 109 million customers. Each share in Netcom will be swapped for 1.508 Unicom shares.

In another merger, mobile giant China Mobile Communications, which supports almost 400 million subscribers, is combining with fixed-line operator China TieTong Telecommunications.

The question now is: Will we begin to see tenders for 3G networks? China's regulators recently promised three 3G licenses will be tendered once restructuring is complete.

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