China Unicom and Telefonica set up a joint venture to provide big data services in China.

Called Smart Steps Digital Technology, it will provide services “leveraging on China Unicom’s stable and extensive basic telecommunication network and rich and market experience, as well as Telefonica’s mature technology in big data services such as Smart Steps”.

It will be “managed with a market-oriented mechanism”, with 55/45 ownership by China Unicom and Telefonica respectively.

The Europe and Latin America telecoms group said its Smart Steps offering uses anonymised, aggregated and extrapolated network data to deliver location and movement insights in a fast manner.

It is expected that this can be used extensively in China, in areas such as transportation construction and operation, urban planning, tourism management, public security, financial risk control, real estate and retail analysis, business consultancy insights and macro statistics.

It was said that the effort will “further improve China Unicom’s deployment in the big data market” and provide Telefonica with “access to the tremendous potential of the big data market of China” – also marking the first time it has expanded Smart Steps beyond its own footprint.

Telefonica and China Unicom have worked together on a number of joint initiatives, following a strategic alliance formed in 2009. This has included work in M2M and handset procurement.