Poor service and high telecom fees attacked

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 December, 1998, 12:00am

A monopoly of the telecommunications industry held by the Information Industry Ministry has resulted in poor service and unreasonably high charges, a newspaper reported.

The Guangming Daily quoted a columnist as saying the industry was in such disarray 'there is no alternative but change'.

The running costs for each minute of inner-city fixed line calls was between 0.01 to 0.02 yuan, but customers were charged 0.3 yuan, the paper said.

Customers also had to pay an 'initial installation fee' of several thousand yuan and 'monthly fees', usually less than 100 yuan (HK$93), for a fixed line phone service.

Charges were so high many households in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, never used their telephones for outside calls, the paper said.

The paper told of an enterprise in Jiangxi's provincial capital Nanchang that wanted to set up an Internet site.

It applied for an international domain name and an exclusive telephone line. But after long negotiations with the telecom administration, the company abandoned the project because it was told it could only have a provincial domain name which was long and difficult to remember.

A professor of telecommunications at Qinghua University said the monthly charge for renting an exclusive telephone line for the Internet was 'dozens of thousand' yuan in China - more than 10 times the cost in the United States.

Costs for individual Net users were just as heavy. In Nanchang, they had to pay 50 yuan for the first three hours per month and 12 yuan for each additional hour, plus the basic telephone fee, a heavy burden for an urban worker who earns less than the 1,000 yuan monthly average.

Business was so lucrative for the ministry that its staff were well paid, the paper said.

Each employee of the Beijing Telecom Administration got an annual bonus of 20,000 yuan.