China Unicom yesterday said that although recent tariff cuts by China Mobile were unlikely to extend to more provinces, it had decided to make 'regulatory preparations' to counteract further moves by its rival.
Unicom president Shang Bing said that the company had already made operational and regulatory preparations to respond to any deterioration of mobile service prices. He did not give further details.
'Beijing Mobile has adjusted only some of its tariff plans; it's not an across-the-board cut and would not affect [pricing levels for] the whole country,' Mr Shang said.
'Beijing tariffs have always been higher than in other provinces ... so there's room to lower tariffs.'
This week, China Mobile slashed its basic voice tariffs to as low as 20 fen per minute after the Ministry of Information Industry approved the move, believed to be the first such adjustment in Beijing in 10 years.
China Mobile also introduced in Henan and Shanghai 'bucket plans' for domestic long distance and China inbound roaming by aligning their usually higher rates with the local voice rates.
With so-called bucket plans, subscribers pay a flat rate for a certain number of minutes and a different rate for any extra minutes.
'We will monitor the tariffs of Beijing [Mobile] closely. For now, it won't affect Unicom's pricing ... although we are making necessary operational and regulatory preparations to respond,' said Mr Shang.
His comments added credence to reports that Unicom had already applied with the information industry ministry for an introduction of a 10-yuan fixed-rate plan in Beijing that would give its customers unlimited minutes for incoming calls.
Mr Shang refused to comment.