China Unicom, one of the three national network operators in the country, operates a 2G GSM and 3G UMTS network. Smaller than its major competitor, China Mobile, with some 300M subscribers compared to 750M at the end of 2014, it is still the second largest worldwide. It benefitted from an early exclusive contract to sell the Apple iPhone in China, and its ability to offer a much wider range of handsets and devices because of its compatibility with the rest of the world. In 2014, this changed with the launch of TD-LTE by China Mobile supported by the latest Apple iPhone models.
3G came later to China than other countries, partly because it championed its own 3G technology variant (TDS-CDMA) which was awarded to China Mobile. The third operator, China Telecom, uses CDMA technology. All three are permitted to offer both wireline and wireless broadband services nationally.
China Unicom launched their 3G UMTS service in September 2009 and expects to grow quickly because of its wide appeal. As a new service, it does not have the reach and in-building penetration with its 3G network and so is bringing a 3G femtocell to market to quickly increase its appeal.
Additionally, its Apple iPhone was uniquely manufactured without the WiFi capability, which significantly hampered its use.
China Unicom's femtocell service was branded as "3G Inn" and required a monthly fee. The standalone unit is only available in Northern Provinces from launch at the end of October 2010. Launch information was limited. A report from Reuters translated into English is quoted here.
China Unicom presented results from early trials of LTE small cells at the end of 2013. The relatively small number of outdoor units did not warrant a small cell gateway and were integrated into the LTE core network in the same way as macrocells.