Carriers allowed to set non-basic rates
Beijing has moved a step closer towards liberalisation of China's telecommunications tariffs by allowing carriers to set their own rates for most non-basic services.
The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) yesterday posted a notice on its Web site saying it would lift price controls on a wide range of the services.
The move was to 'suit the new competitive pattern of the telecoms market and the requirements of China's entry to World Trade Organisation', as well as to 'further deepen the liberalisation of telecoms tariff system', the ministry said in a circular to all six telecoms services providers.
The list of 39 deregulated services covers mobile and fixed-line data services, Internet access, narrow-band ISDN local calls, paging services, Internet phone services, voice mail services and even mobile domestic and international long-distance automatic roaming charges.
Although the deregulation does not include basic tariffs for fixed-line local calls and long-distance calls, or mobile tariffs, the scope has clearly widened from the price liberalisation in 2000.
Under the new price-setting rules, operators are required only to report to provincial authorities before they set new rates.
Although the new guidelines were dated July 6, the MII did not release them until yesterday.
Both China Mobile and China Unicom said the new price setting guidelines would not have any financial impact, as they had already been setting their own rates on the services.
A China Mobile (HK) spokesman said: 'We have been charging on a market-determined basis for part of the fully competitive mobile services items and value-added services. The notice mainly sets out the scope of those services which do not include the basic mobile services and hence it is not expected to have any material impact on the operation of the company.'