China set for launch of first MVNOs

30 Oct 2013

China’s first wave of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) have announced successful tie-ups with network providers, although commercial services are not expected to be available until mid-2014, the Global Times reports. Electrical appliance retailers and handset manufacturers Suning Commerce Group and Gome have each signed deals with China Unicom and China Telecom, as has Telling Telecommunication Holding. Suning, along with several unnamed companies, is also in close talks with the nation’s largest provider by subscribers, China Mobile, although the cellco is yet to finalise any deals. Zhu Jun, a senior official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), explained that each prospective MVNO must partner with at least two network operators, but expects most to look for agreements with all three. The regulator is planning to hand out MVNO concessions later this year, with some eight companies expected to be awarded the first set of licences.