China Telecom will launch a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in the UK in partnership with Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between local cellcos Orange UK and T-Mobile UK, the Financial Times reports. As part of wider-ranging plans to expand its customer base outside its domestic market by rolling out branded services to Chinese residents, students and tourists in other countries, the Asian giant is understood to have targeted the UK due to the expected increase in visitor numbers due to the 2012 Olympics. Transatel, Everything Everywhere’s mobile virtual network aggregator, will manage the service for China Telecom, with the latter expected to market the business under its own brand name. Services will be provided in Chinese languages, with customers benefitting from easy-access international calls back to China, while services for callers in China to contact mobile users in the UK will also be on offer.
Looking forward, the Chinese operator is expected to use the UK launch as a springboard to introducing similar services across other European countries, while the report also claims it is examining possible partners for providing services to retail customers in the US; China Telecom already serves corporate US customers via an agreement with AT&T. According to the Chinese company there are around two million Chinese living in Europe, mostly in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy, with more than 600,000 Chinese in the UK alone, and the same number of Chinese visitors every year.
Commenting on the development, managing director of China Telecom Europe Yan Ou, noted: ‘Entering the UK mobile market is a strategic move. We are keen to launch the service in the UK as soon as possible as there is a real gap in the market for the provision of tailored mobile services and competitive tariffs aimed at the growing Chinese population in the UK.’