British Telecom's recent memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Telecom was the natural extension of its co-operation with the dominant mainland operator, according to a company official. 'We have been working together for some time and had a good carrier-to-carrier relationship,' BT northeast Asia managing director Mark Smith said. Last year BT sealed a GSM (global system for mobile) roaming agreement with China Telecom, then signed a frame relay interconnection agreement allowing the delivery of its multinational-aimed private network services into the mainland. 'This [MOU] was the logical next step,' Mr Smith said. Unlike many of the larger carriers, BT has held back from projects in China. Where many have put money into projects run by the second operator China Unicom, BT says it prefers to wait and watch the market. Its representative office in Beijing is there mainly in an advisory and educational capacity. The focus of the recent MOU is on exchange of personnel and technology. Objectively, it is hard to see what technology BT might want to acquire from China Telecom, certainly for a few years. Mr Smith said the transfer of personnel would be useful for both sides. 'They can send young up-and-coming managers to the UK to see how we have learnt from 13 years experience since privatisation,' he said. In return BT managers in Britain could go into China Telecom and learn how it was dealing with managing such a massive network. 'First of all, it will give our young managers a view of how a monopoly works but more than that they will gain knowledge of how to handle a large system,' Mr Smith said. 'In a short time China, for example will have 20 million mobile customers. In Britain they will never have seen a situation like that.'