According to sources at Shanghai Telecom, China Telecom's (NYSE: CHA; 0728.HK) BlackBerry launch may not occur on March 1 as originally planned, but should be no later than March 15.
According to an industry source, the first BlackBerry handset to be launched will be the 9530, which has completed internal testing for all functions including Chinese language short messaging and E-Surfing services. The delay is reportedly due to insufficient stock, so China Telecom will launch trial commercial use in mid-March followed by a full launch at the end of the month.
Due to time constraints, the first batch of smartphones will not be completely remodeled, and will lack a UIM slot requiring telecom operators to directly encode the user's phone number within the handset.
BlackBerry handsets with a removable UIM card slot will be available in the second half of this year, according to the source. Besides the 9530, the 9550, 9630 and 9650 will all be released in H2 2010, all with replaceable UIM cards. On the popular question of Wi-Fi functionality, the source said that the 9530 will not have Wi-Fi, while the status of the other three handsets is unknown.
According to internal materials from China Telecom, commercial trial calling plans will be available for RMB 189, RMB 289, RMB 389 and RMB 589. In addition to a fixed amount of free data bandwidth, the plans include between 200 - 1,500 voice minutes, and a single long-distance calling rate nationwide as low as RMB 0.1 per minute.