Fixed-line giant will wait until trials turn profitable as industry shake-up looms China Telecom is taking a cautious approach to the development of internet protocol television (IPTV) and will wait for its trial runs in Shanghai and Guangdong to turn profitable before it ventures into other areas, chairman and chief executive Wang Xiaochu said yesterday. Mr Wang said the fixed-line giant had 40,000 customers for the trial run of its internet service in Shanghai and Guangdong, offering them content in collaboration with television broadcasting partner Shanghai Cultural and Broadcasting Media Group. 'For us, IPTV will continue to be offered on a trial basis,' he said after the company's annual general meeting yesterday. 'We will only expand the current scale of operations in areas where we can be more certain of getting a return.' China Telecom does not have an IPTV licence from the mainland's media and broadcasting regulator - the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television. It has conducted the trials through its partnership with Shanghai Cultural and Broadcasting Media Group, which has a licence. Mr Wang's latest statement about the company's IPTV plans is more cautious than remarks made in February. He said then that China Telecom would expand IPTV services across the 21 provinces in which it operated. Mr Wang also said his company was considering expanding broadband television in the mainland. He said the company - through its partnership with Shanghai Cultural and Broadcasting - had its sights set on 20 per cent of the nation's 300 million homes with television, wanting them as broadband television customers. China Telecom also partners Sichuan Changhong Electric. Together they produce set-top boxes and internet-capable television sets. IPTV is a hot business. However, telecoms operators such as China Telecom might be deterred from aggressively developing it, an industry source said. They were being hindered by uncertainties about how the government planned to restructure the sector amid the imminent issue of 3G licences, the source said. Mr Wang was reappointed to his position after a sector-wide reshuffle of company chiefs last year in which he relinquished his chairmanship in China Mobile to Wang Jianzhou, the former chairman of China Unicom. Amid widespread speculation earlier this year that Unicom, the weaker of the two mobile players and the operator of GSM and CDMA networks, would be broken up, Mr Wang said he had proposed to the authorities buying one of Unicom's mobile networks. The purchase would have been made jointly with China Netcom. Yesterday, Mr Wang said he had received no information from the government about how it would proceed with the industry's restructuring.