The Chinese government has once again taken steps to open the country’s largely monopolised telecoms sector by giving another six private firms licences to re-sell mobile services.
The move yesterday comes seven months after the Industry and Information Technology Ministry (MIIT) first granted licences to 19 private firms, and is part of its efforts to restructure the industry to create more competition and innovation.
According to Xinhua, the private companies can repackage the voice, SMS, MMS and data services they buy from the big three before re-selling to clients using their own brands.
MIIT said in a statement that before the companies can introduce their services, they may need to improve their charging and customer service systems.
The MIIT emphasised that the granting of new licences was part of a pilot programme and that it would closely monitor the companies and their services. It issued guidelines a year ago in June to open up the telecoms sector to private capital, with the long-term goal of giving consumers more choice and better services.
To be considered for a licence, private companies need to sign a cooperation agreement with one of the country’s three operators before filing an application with the MIIT.
China’s 1.2 billion mobile connections are provided by three operators: China Mobile (790 million connections), China Unicom (295 million) and China Telecom (190 million), according to Q2 figures from GSMA Intelligence.