Parliament approves landmark telecoms bill
The mainland parliament has passed the country's first comprehensive set of telecommunications regulations.
A separate regulation on Internet content was also passed yesterday, the People's Daily reported.
The State Council passage of the Draft Telecommunications Regulation will provide the industry with a principal legal framework and legitimise the role of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) as the industry's regulatory authority with specific powers and responsibilities.
However, details about the changes to the final draft and the date of promulgation have not been revealed.
According to previous draft rules, Beijing would enforce a licensing system and determine the number of telecoms licences to be issued.
It will divide telecoms service providers into two categories: proprietary network operators who own telecoms network infrastructure - from fixed line to Internet and satellite services - and those providing services using others' networks.
Requirements are more stringent in the first category.
For example, mainland companies must have three billion yuan (about HK$2.81 billion) of annual revenue for the past two years, while their foreign partners must be telecoms firms with at least two years of annual revenue of more than US$10 billion and must have had representative offices in the mainland for more than three years.
To apply for a second-category licence, mainland firms must have two billion yuan of annual revenue or assets worth three billion yuan, while their foreign partners must have US$500,000 in annual revenue or assets worth US$1 million.
The MII has drafted separate rules for foreign participation.