Chinese telecom firms scrap roaming fees from September
China’s three big telecom firms stand to loose billions of yuan from cancelling domestic roaming charges
China’s three state-owned telecommunications companies announced on Thursday that they will scrap domestic roaming charges for mainland users from September 1, one month ahead of the original schedule.
China Unicom, China Mobile and China Telecom made the announcement in separate statements. China Telecom also said it would cancel domestic long-distance charges from Septmber 1.
At the same time, the three companies have pledged to lower internet access and leased line fees for small and medium-sized enterprises, and cut international long-distance voice tariffs as part of China’s overall effort to cut consumer costs and encourage companies to adopt new technologies.
In March, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang renewed his call for the country’s three telecommunication network operators to “raise speed, drop prices”. The three companies had immediately agreed and pledged to implement the changes by October 1.
Yang Jie, chairman of China Telecom, said in a forum on Thursday that about 80 million users were expected to benefit from free domestic long-distance and roaming services.
The fees, charging customers who leave their local service area, range from 0.6 yuan ($0.09) to 0.8 yuan per minute, and generate as much as 10 per cent of net profits for the operators.
China Unicom, the world’s sixth-largest mobile network operator by subscribers, estimated in March that the cancellation of roaming fees would cost the company about 1.6 billion yuan in lost revenue each quarter, which may hurt the company’s effort to turn around its business this year.