China Telecom charges dive
China Telecommunications (Group), the mainland's dominant fixed-line telephone operator, plans to slash international call charges by as much as 50 per cent as part of efforts to strengthen its hold on the booming telecoms market.
The company, which controls more than 90 per cent of the mainland's fixed-line telephone network, plans to cancel telephone installation fees and restructure charges for city calls, the Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday.
It quoted officials saying the measures were expected to be unveiled shortly.
Last month, the government completed restructuring China Telecom - demerged into four companies. China Telecom (Group) will focus on fixed-line business and China Mobile Telecommunications (Group) will control mobile phone operations.
China Mobile's listing vehicle in Hong Kong - China Mobile (Hong Kong) is the largest listed company in the SAR by capitalisation.
The plan to cut telephone charges comes as Beijing's 13-year quest to join the World Trade Organisation looks set to succeed.
According to the WTO agreement between Beijing and the United States, the mainland is expected to open up its tightly controlled telecoms market within five or six years of WTO entry, expected later this year.
China Telecom last year twice lowered IDD and other charges, but they are still high. China Telecom charges 15 yuan (about HK$14.04) a minute for an IDD call to the US. By contrast, US operators charge between 30 US cents and 50 US cents a minute - 2.48 yuan to 4.14 yuan. The newspaper report said China Telecom was also considering restructuring city call charges, from three-minute blocks to single minutes.