China Mobile relaunched a service it hopes will drive business from overseas mobile users by providing free calls enabled by data connections.
The Jego app allows users to receive free incoming calls on a China Mobile number if they have one or, alternatively, on a rented number. The app – which is available for Android and iOS platforms – also supports free video calls, text messages and picture messages, as well as cheap international calls.
Tiger Lin, CEO and chairman of China Mobile International, which is China Mobile’s international business division, told Reuters the service will target China and foreign markets through partnerships with other operators using its network.
Despite being the world’s biggest operator with more than 740 million connections, China Mobile has made little impact outside of its home market. Its only foreign mobile operation is Zong in Pakistan.
According to John Jiang, China Mobile CTO, Jego was launched in June but had to be withdrawn due to the demand it created on China Mobile’s network and the fact it was a prototype.
The rise of so-called Over-The-Top (OTT) messaging apps such as Skype, WhatsApp, LINE and Tencent’s Weixin/WeChat have impacted operator revenue around the world, as they bypass traditional cellular networks and run over WiFi. Operators are therefore looking to partner with, or compete against, OTT players in an effort to create new revenue streams.
Rival China Telecom launched an OTT messaging app in August, through a joint venture with Chinese internet company NetEase, while China Unicom formed a partnership with Tencent in July to launch a SIM card for the Weixin OTT messaging app.