China approves pilot to open mobile telecoms market
China has approved a pilot scheme allowing private companies to piggy back on the country’s three dominant telecommunications providers to offer own-brand mobile services, opening the world’s largest mobile phone market to increased competition.
Authorities have approved 11 private “virtual carriers” to resell mobile telecommunications services. The pilot opens up the market for privately run companies to offer discounts or more attractive deals, raising competition in a market dominated by state-owned enterprises China Mobile Ltd, China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd.
Under the pilot, private companies will be able to buy mobile communication services in bulk from providers which have their own mobile networks, repackage them and sell them to end-users.
China Mobile, which recently reached an agreement to sell Apple Inc’s iPhone, dominates the domestic market with over 760 million subscribers. China Unicom and China Telecom trail with 280m and 185m users respectively.
The 11 companies include Net.cn, a subsidiary of online retail giant Alibaba, rival e-commerce firm Jingdong and major Chinese mobile phone retailer D.Phone. Shenzhen-listed Telling Telecommunication Holding Co and Beijing Bewinner Communications Co also got the green light.