China’s third-largest cellular operator China Unicom has said that it still expects to reach its target of 20 million CDMA users by the end of 2003, despite the slow growth rates recorded so far this year. Unicom launched CDMA services in January 2002, having invested CNY20.9 billion (USD2.5 billion) in the initial phase of network rollout. Take-up gathered speed in mid-2002 and by the end of the year CDMA users numbered 4.49 million. 2003 got off to a less than promising start, however, with Unicom reporting CDMA subscriber growth of just 6.7% in February, down from 13.4% the previous month and a peak of 35% in September 2002, to take the total to 7.49 million. Despite the slowdown, which was largely attributable to the ending of significant handset subsidies and other incentives for new customers, Unicom has not revised its long-term subscriber targets, predicting that it will reach 50 million CDMA users by the end of 2005.