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China's ZTE Enters U.S. Mobile Phone Market

The company offers the C88 handset, a basic phone that includes Internet browsing, Bluetooth, a VGA camera with zoom, text and multimedia messaging, and mobile instant messaging.

ZTE USA, a subsidiary of China's largest telecom equipment manufacturer ZTE Corp., on Thursday began offering its first mobile phone for the U.S. market.

The ZTE C88 isn't a ground-breaking device, but it gives mobile users some freedom and a simpler alternative to expensive computer-like phones. The phone is sold through MetroPCS, a wireless carrier based in Dallas, which offers monthly plans as low as $30 and doesn’t require customers to sign contracts.

The C88 is ZTE's first mobile phone for the U.S. market; it comes with basic features including Bluetooth, a camera, and Internet browsing.
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"The C88 handset demonstrates our ability to align our products with the U.S. market's needs. Consumers will find that the C88 offers the perfect mix of affordability, quality, and a broad feature set," said George Sun, CEO of ZTE USA, in a statement.

The phone costs between $129 and $149, depending on a vendor's promotions. But there's a drawback: MetroPCS currently only offers service in the Miami, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento metropolitan areas. That means many U.S. consumers will be left out.

The flip phone uses 1900 Mhz and 850 MHz PCS and cellular bands. It comes with standard features, including Internet browsing, Bluetooth, a VGA camera with zoom, text and multimedia messaging, and mobile instant messaging.

Preloaded applications include mail@metro, an e-mail service offered by MetroPCS, and metro411, directory assistance for MetroPCS customers. The phone isn't intended for heavy multimedia use or storing large files, since it only contains 60 MB of internal memory.

As its core business, ZTE specializes in wireless and networking products such as CDMA platforms and WiMax equipment. Last year, Mexico City's Mayor Mercelo Ebrard signed an agreement with ZTE to build a Wi-Fi network connecting schools and government offices. The free citywide Wi-Fi network is expected to give access to 8 million residents in Mexico City.

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