China Unicom Group, the mainland's second-largest mobile operator, is attempting to boost subscriptions to its CDMA (code division multiple access) services by buying up to 500,000 handsets. President Wang Jianzhou told a CDMA conference that China Unicom Group, the parent of the SAR-listed unit, planned to buy the handsets directly from the manufacturers this month. The purchase would be carried out through the group's 58.88 per cent-owned handset distribution company, Unicom Guomai, Mr Wang said. The company would order only from a few of the 19 authorised CDMA handset manufacturers. Mr Wang said it was hoped the move would help restore the manufacturers' confidence in the demand for their products. 'Many manufacturers are worrying that the level of demand may not be sufficient. Therefore, they are reluctant to produce. 'Of the 19 [authorised CDMA handset] manufacturers, some haven't even started to produce,' he said. Mr Wang blamed the slow subscriber pick-up of its CDMA services on an insufficient supply of handsets, which had resulted in high prices. 'The problem with CDMA is the prices are too high and the supply is too small,' he said. Beijing Capital, one of the 19 authorised CDMA handset manufacturers agreed, saying mobile users were reluctant to buy the handsets because they were 20 per cent to 30 per cent more expensive than GSM (global system for mobile communications) handsets. Mr Wang said China Unicom believed handset prices should fall as a result of its handset purchase.