Cellcos pledge to end domestic long-distance, roaming charges by October

6 Mar 2017

China’s trio of mobile network operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – have confirmed that they will take steps to scrap domestic long-distance (DLD) and domestic mobile roaming charges by 1 October 2017, China Daily writes. The announcements follow Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report, which promised to end domestic roaming and DLD charges as part of the government’s plans to improve the internet/ICT industry. In the wake of the Premier’s speech, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Chen Zhaoxiong stated that the watchdog would implement measures to drive the initiative: ‘We will strive to remove completely the domestic long-distance and roaming tariffs for mobile users, greatly reduce the tariff for international long-distance calls and dedicated internet access price[s] for SMEs.’

For their part, the three providers have set out their own plans to deliver on the government’s promises, with China Unicom stating that it plans to increase broadband coverage, develop new applications and double mobile broadband download speeds from 300Mbps to 600Mbps. For its part, China Mobile noted that domestic roaming charges currently make up around 8% to 10% of its total turnover and the removal of that revenue stream would encourage it to improve operation and management efficiency. The cellco added that it would also reduce rates for international calls, focusing on 64 countries covered by China’s ‘Belt and Road (B&R) Initiative’ – which aims to strengthen ties between China and other countries in the Eurasia region. Finally, China Telecom said it would also lower rates for calls to B&R countries, and reduce broadband prices for SMEs this year. The smallest of the three mobile providers, Telecom also unveiled plans to accelerate the rollout of mobile broadband services, deploy a nationwide voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) service and improve fibre-optic coverage in rural areas of the south by the end of the year.