End of era for long-dis­tance, roam­ing charges on Sept 1

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By FAN FEIFEI and OUYANG SHIJIA

The coun­try’s three tele­com car­ri­ers an­nounced on Thurs­day that they will scrap do­mes­tic long-dis­tance and roam­ing charges from Sept 1, a month ahead of the dead­line set by the State Coun­cil.

The three car­ri­ers are China Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp, China United Net­work Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Group Co and China Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp.

Yang Jie, chair­man of China Tele­com, said the move would ben­e­fit more than 80 mil­lion of its users and fur­ther boost the in­tel­li­gent ter­mi­nal mar­ket.

The tele­com gi­ant said it had in­vested 100 bil­lion yuan ($14.84 bil­lion) in net­work con­struc­tion this year to en­hance net­work speed, aim­ing to help both in­di­vid­ual users and small and medium-sized com­pa­nies ben­e­fit from faster in­ter­net ac­cess.

Mean­while, China Uni­com and China Mo­bile had also an­nounced they would can­cel do­mes­tic long-dis­tance and roam­ing fees from Sept 1.

Fu Liang, an in­de­pen­dent tele­com an­a­lyst, said the in­flu­ence on tele­com car­ri­ers would be lim­ited as they have al­ready put for­ward various types of 4G pack­ages for sub­scribers to stim­u­late data con­sump­tion, shift­ing from voice call ser­vices.

“The re­moval of do­mes­tic roam­ing fees will push tele­com car­ri­ers to im­prove their prod­ucts and ser­vices, as well as seek new sources of growth and cul­ti­vate emerg­ing busi­nesses,” said Xiang Li­gang, a tele­com ex­pert.

Premier Li Ke­qiang an­nounced on March 5 the can­cel­la­tion of the years-long prac­tice of charg­ing for longdis­tance calls and do­mes­tic roam­ing fees, as part of govern­ment’s move to build a stronger in­ter­net in­dus­try.

At a pol­icy brief­ing of the State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice on March 6, China’s top three tele­com com­pa­nies an­nounced that they would can­cel charges on do­mes­tic long-dis­tance mo­bile phone calls and roam­ing start­ing on Oct 1 this year.

Chi­nese tele­com car­ri­ers collect do­mes­tic roam­ing fees when the sub­scribers leave their lo­cal ser­vice area. These range from 0.6 yuan to 0.8 yuan per minute depend­ing on the pack­ages they have signed up to.

Al­though roam­ing charges are sub­ject to wide crit­i­cism, they re­main an im­por­tant source of rev­enue for China’s three tele­com heavy­weights, ac­count­ing for nearly 10 per­cent of their net prof­its.

China Tele­com’s in­vest­ment in net­work con­struc­tion in 2017

Wu Xiaobo con­trib­uted to this story.

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