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CES Asia 2015

Tough competition ahead as China's Big Three telecoms operators eye red-hot internet of things

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 May, 2015, 4:44pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 May, 2015, 12:31pm

One of mainland China's largest mobile network operators is hoping to beat its domestic rivals in expanding into the internet of things, which includes wearable devices, mobile payment and smart cars, a senior executive said on Monday.

Liu Chunyang, general manager in charge of online platforms and corporate partnership at China Mobile IOT Company, said China Mobile would have major advantages to succeed against its domestic rivals – China Unicom and China Telecom – for internet of things (IOT) related business due to the company's wider and more stable mobile data services coverage nationwide.

“In terms of data, messaging and broadband services, I don’t think China Unicom and China Telecom can compete with us because they don’t have the same ability as we do [in those areas],” said Liu at a media briefing on the sidelines of the inaugural Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Asia conference in Shanghai.

China Mobile IOT is a relatively young subsidiary of its parent company, established just about two years ago to meet the growing demand of IOT related services in mainland China, especially among younger and more tech savvy consumers.

READ MORE: 'Future hurtling towards us': Intel CES Asia keynote looks forward to the internet of things

While in the past, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) such as China Mobile were often unwilling to compete with each other, this mindset has shifted dramatically in recent years. This month, Premier Li Keqiang called for the Big Three carriers to change their service plans to provide cheaper and faster mobile data services. It is hoped that increased competition between the country's main carriers will also lead to better service standards for Chinese consumers.

One key area of competition is the internet of things. Liu said that China Mobile will focus on four main IOT areas: wearable devices, smart homes, smart cars, and mobile payment.

For the smart car sector, China Mobile has been in talks with more than a dozen Chinese and international carmakers including Beijing Auto, BYD, Audi and BMW to explore how China Mobile can provide mobile data and web services to be integrated into the operating system of the next generation of car models.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of CES Asia, Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, the organiser of the conference, said that China is expected to become the number one market for consumer technology in 2016, overtaking the United States, thanks to both strong local buying power and the rapid development of homegrown innovation.

CES is one of the world's most closely watched technology and innovation events, held every year in Las Vegas. CES Asia, taking place in Shanghai this week, marks the first time the event has been held outside of the US.