China Unicom

Lanzhou mobile phone billing challenges central regulations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2001, 12:00am

Some China Unicom Gansu sales agents have cancelled charges for incoming calls in the northwestern city of Lanzhou, China Youth Daily reported on Thursday.

Most mobile phone users in China pay to make or receive calls, and many have complained about charges incurred answering calls, according to mainland media.

The Ministry of the Information Industry in theory prohibits phone companies from scrapping two-way billing. However, news reports say local providers have tried to lower charges.

Shortly after China Unicom Gansu advertised ''callers pay only'' service, rival China Mobile Gansu followed suit, China Youth Daily said.

The central government profits from mobile phone usage because it allows China Mobile and China Unicom to operate in the mobile phone market, so one-way billing would cut into revenues.

Mobile phone users in Lanzhou now can receive unlimited calls for a flat fee of 18 yuan (about HK$16.56) a month and dial out at the same rates as before. It normally costs 0.4 yuan per minute to receive a call.

''You need only pay 18 yuan a month, even if some friends may call and talk to you for 10,000 minutes,'' the China Youth Daily said, quoting a China Unicom Gansu shop assistant.

A China Unicom Gansu spokesman told China Youth Daily the sales agents, not the company, are cancelling charges for received calls. He said the new charges do not violate the ministry regulations because they are a a trial practice.

If users receive calls worth more than 18 yuan per month, the sales agents rather than the telecom companies will bear overrun costs, the official said. Sales agents expect to sell more phones to cover any such overruns, he said.