China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) moved to open up service-level competition in the country’s mobile market with the award of 11 MVNO licences.
The new entrants have been approved to offer resell services using bandwidth from the country’s three incumbents as part of a two-year trial, which was first announced in January 2013.
The most high profile winner is Alibaba whose Net.cn subsidiary received a licence, as has e-commerce rival Jingdong and mobile phone retailer D.Phone.
Other winners include Telling Telecommunication Holding, Beijing Bewinner Communications, Lianlian.com and Huangxiang Telecom.
The approval documents issued to the new licensees include rules for how the new market will be supervised, as well as covering service charges and quality, consumer rights and information protection.
The first services could be available within a few months. For instance, Yi Jiangnan, Telling’s vice manager, said the company would launch a service in May 2014, according to China News Agency.
There has been speculation that Hon Hai, the parent of leading manufacturer Foxconn, is interested in a MVNO licence, having recently won a 4G licence in Taiwan. The company has denied the speculation. Its name did not appear among the current list of licence winners.