Telefonica and China Unicom revealed a smartphone joint procurement deal, “helping both companies deliver richer data services to a broader group of their consumers in China, Latin America and Europe”.

A first round has already been completed, involving 4G smartphones. The operators said in a statement that due to “joint industrial trends research, joint product specifications, and joint RFQ negotiations”, it has been possible to achieve “important economies of scale to acquire cost-effective smartphones from two leading handset vendors” – Lenovo and TCL (which uses the Alcatel OneTouch brand).

For Chinese brands such as Lenovo and TCL, this is said to be a “critical project to access the unparalleled combined scale and the global footprint of Telefonica and China Unicom, expanding their reach to highly attractive mobile markets”.

TCL has already been involved in the creation of devices powered by Mozilla’s Firefox OS, targeting customers in emerging markets, an initiative in which Telefonica was one of the key movers.

Details of the current devices have not been revealed.

Telefonica has been a shareholder of China Unicom for some time, although it cut its stake in the not-too-distant past (it is now down to 2.5 per cent). The pair have “agreed to continue working on other joint strategic initatives”.

The 4G smartphones resulting from the current initiative will be available in the second half of 2015, in China, Europe and Latin America. Both companies have “developed specific consumer propositions and go-to-market plans in all countries to maximise their potential”.