Mainland mobile phone giant China Unicom is urging the Hong Kong government to speed up the controversial auction of its CDMA network licence, saying the current infrastructure, run by Hutchison Whampoa, is too old. Chairman and chief executive Wang Jianzhou said yesterday the firm hoped to connect data roaming in Hong Kong as soon as possible. 'We very much hope to participate in the next generation CDMA market in Hong Kong,' Mr Wang said on the sidelines of a CDMA1X new business conference. 'But we want to see the network up soon - no matter who runs it.' China Unicom, which has 23 million CDMA subscribers, is the latest company to join the chorus calling for a new CDMA network in Hong Kong. However, it is up against the city's incumbent mobile operators, who say Hong Kong does not need a new mobile licence because there is already too much competition. In March, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) proposed to auction the CDMA2000 licence, which allows users data access of a minimum of 384 kilobits per second - equivalent to third-generation (3G) speed. The watchdog has delayed its second consultation to June 19. Hutchison owns Hong Kong's only CDMA licence. The territory's No1 mobile-phone operator has threatened to sue Ofta if it loses its licence through the auction. China Unicom is hoping to increase data growth to slow down its average revenue per user decline as it targets the mass market. The firm has three million CDMA1X users, who are paying 15 yuan per month on average for the data service. This is on top of the average 128 yuan fee CDMA users already pay. China Unicom is keen to see the CDMA network develop in Hong Kong as it hopes to capture mobile-roaming revenue, which accounted for as much as 20 per cent of mobile operators' revenue in Hong Kong. However, Mr Wang said Hutchison's CDMA network in Hong Kong did not allow data roaming as it was 'too old'. In South Korea, China Unicom subscribers have access to both voice and data roaming with the CDMA1X data card. China Unicom said it had ordered 500,000 CDMA-GSM dual mode handsets and planned to sell them around the middle of the year. The handsets - Worldwind - target business people and travellers. It also hopes to follow in the footstep of its Korean and Japanese counterparts, which have popularised CDMA1X in the youth market. Mr Wang stressed that the firm's CDMA strategy this year was to pursue profitability and not subscriber growth, ruling out heavy handset subsidies. China Unicom is also seeking investment and further co-operation in neighbouring countries that run CDMA networks, including Tata and Reliance in India and Hutchison Telecom in Thailand.