Telephone World Digital Group is the first to launch MVNO services in China, wholesaling capacity from China Telecom, according to news agency Xinhua.
Voice and data services are offered by T.Mobile (no apparent relation to Deutsche Telekom’s mobile unit), a unit of the group, and are initially confined to Hangzhou, capital of east China’s Zhejiang Province. There are apparently plans for expansion in the province, but hard detail on the timetable or intended geographical reach has still to emerge.
Telephone World Digital Group is one of 19 companies that have received MVNO licenses, 11 of which were announced in January.
Among the MVNO licence winners are e-commerce giant Alibaba (through its Net.cn subsidiary) and rival Jingdong. Retailers Suning, JD.com and D.Phone are also MVNO licence holders.
Xinhua reports that Suning and D.Phone started taking pre-orders for their MVNO services on 1 May.
Zou Xueyong, secretary general of the Industry Association of the Mobile Virtual Network Operators, said “virtual operators will help push forward reforms in the telecom industry and drive down prices of telecom services”.
The arrival of MVNOs signals more competition, but licence awards are restricted to domestic companies.
According to earlier proposals put forward by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the country’s ‘big three’ mobile network operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – must each strike at least two reseller agreements and grant network access at “fair prices”.