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Telefonica and China Unicom launching 4G smartphones in emerging markets

Telefonica has revealed a new smartphone procurement agreement with China Unicom.

The deal is intended to help “both companies deliver richer data services to a broader group of their consumers in China, Latin America and Europe”.

Following “joint industrial trends research, joint product specifications, and joint RFQ negotiations”, the two operators have announced that they have achieved “important economies of scale to acquire cost-effective smartphones from two leading handset vendors.”

The vendors in question – Lenovo and TCL – are both Chinese, with TCL using the Alcatel OneTouch brand. The firms have already procured an initial round of 4G smartphones in what has been described as a “critical project to access the unparalleled combined scale and the global footprint of Telefonica and China Unicom, expanding their reach to highly attractive mobile markets”.

TCL already has significant experience in designing devices aimed at high-growth emerging markets, having been extensively involved in creating phones running on Mozilla’s Firefox OS. Telefonica was also a key player in this initiative.

Telefonica has long held shares in China Unicom, although its current holding is only 2.5% after divesting some of its stake. The firms confirmed that they have “agreed to continue working on other joint strategic initiatives”.

Although the specifics of the 4G smartphones have not been disclosed, the devices will come to market in the second half of 2015, launching in China, Europe and Latin America.

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