Tele­coms must cut fees on in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses, Li says

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG YUE zhangyue@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Premier Li Ke­qiang urged the coun­try’s three ma­jor tele­com ser­vice providers on Mon­day to im­ple­ment faster in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity and make it more af­ford­able while im­prov­ing ser­vices for small and medium-sized busi­nesses to help boost in­dus­trial up­grad­ing and nur­ture new eco­nomic driv­ers.

“The in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­try plays a cru­cial and fun­da­men­tal role in China’s eco­nomic tran­si­tion and in­dus­trial up­grad­ing,” Li said while vis­it­ing China Mo­bile Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp, China United Net­work Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Group Co and China Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Corp.

Li fo­cused on en­trepreneur­ship, pre­cise mea­sures on cut­ting con­nec­tiv­ity costs as well as tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion when vis­it­ing the head­quar­ters of the three providers. At China Tele­com, Li learned that the com­pany has al­ready re­duced its con­nec­tiv­ity fees by 40 per­cent and its net­work flow has in­creased by 130 per­cent.

The three com­pa­nies have taken a va­ri­ety of mea­sures to en­hance speed and cut costs. This has im­proved cor­po­rate com­pe­tence and re­duced so­cial costs in gen­eral, while tele­com ser­vice providers also man­aged to gain larger con­sumer groups with in­creased in­ter­net flow, Li said.

Li’s visit fol­lows an an­nounce­ment by the providers on Thurs­day t hat they will scrap do­mes­tic long-dis­tance and roam­ing charges be­gin­ning Sept 1, a month ahead of the dead­line an­nounced by the Min­istr y of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy. This was promised by the premier in his Gov­ern­ment Work Re­port, de­liv­ered in March, and marks the end of over 20 years of roam­ing fees.

Li, speak­ing at a sym­po­sium af­ter the visit, said there is a huge po­ten­tial in the in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion in­dus­try, es­pe­cially when China’s in­for­ma­tion con­sump­tion, mo­bile pay­ment and e-com­merce busi­nesses have ex­pe­ri­enced ro­bust growth in re­cent years.

He en­cour­aged the tele­com com­pa­nies to take big­ger steps to cut costs for a

ded­i­cated in­ter­net ac­cess to SMEs, in par­tic­u­lar.

Huge po­ten­tial lies in the emerg­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in­dus­tries, such as cloud com­put­ing, the in­ter­net of things and in­tel­li­gent ter­mi­nals, which drive the up­grades of tra­di­tional in­dus­tries, Li said.

Li en­cour­aged the three providers, all be­ing Sta­te­owned en­ter­prises, to nur­ture in­no­va­tion in­side the com­pany and bet­ter work with small busi­nesses with com­ple­men­tary ad­van­tages.

Zhang Ai­hua, pro­fes­sor at the School of Eco­nom­ics and Man­age­ment at Beijing Univer­sity of Posts and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, said cut­ting ded­i­cated in­ter­net ac­cess fees for SMEs is im­por­tant to boost China’s eco­nomic tran­si­tion.

“To­day’s in­ter­net ex­ists in al­most all kinds of busi­nesses, while in­ter­net tech­nol­ogy is a key part of their busi­ness for many star­tups,” Zhang said. “This is like mak­ing high­ways more af­ford­able to driv­ers.”

WU ZHIYI / CHINA DAILY

Premier Li Ke­qiang chats with a China Uni­com user at the phone com­pany’s head­quar­ters in Beijing on Mon­day. Li pressed the three largest phone com­pa­nies ear­lier this year to make their ser­vices more af­ford­able. The board be­hind Li says of China Uni­com’s ser­vice, “Speed Up, Price Down”.

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