China Unicom, the world's No 2 CDMA mobile operator by users, is spearheading the formation of a global industry alliance, with members ranging from operators to terminal manufacturers. More than 200 representatives from 19 CDMA operators - in 16 countries - and about 26 suppliers of network equipment, handset and related technologies answered Unicom's call to join a two-day forum that opened in Beijing yesterday. The list of CDMA operators includes Japan's KDDI, South Korea's SK Telecom, KTF and LG Telecom, Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa, Sprint PCS from the United States, India's Tata, Indosat of Indonesia, Spain's Telefonica Moviles Espana and others. However, the world's largest CDMA operator, Verizon Wireless, did not make it. 'We invited all CDMA operators ... but not all of them can make it this time,' said Unicom executive director William Lo Wing-yan. 'We didn't skip Verizon. In fact, we have very good relations with them.' China Unicom has about 25 million users for its CDMA network, only about five million short of Verizon's total in the US. 'Our intention [in forming the CDMA alliance] is purely for practical reasons,' Mr Lo said. 'We want to work together with other operators and vendors to establish common standards to boost CDMA development and to make it more competitive.' Without common standards among different operators and vendors, CDMA mobile users are faced with problems such as an inability to transmit data content, including multimedia messaging, between different networks or handsets. Mr Lo said the CDMA operators and equipment and technology vendors would establish several working groups shortly to help deal with standard-setting issues. Talks on common standards for dual-band handsets, able to work on both GSM and CDMA networks, and the Removable User Identity Module (R-UIM) standard, which can support easy roaming between GSM and CDMA networks, would be key focuses, he said. Unicom was a pioneer in setting the UIM card standard two years ago. Similar to the subscriber identification module (SIM) card for GSM phones, a UIM can be removed and inserted into different CDMA phones, a feature gaining support from other CDMA operators.