State Council orders further price reductions; MNP to be rolled out end of November

16 May 2019

China’s State Council has set out new targets for fixed and mobile internet services, continuing the government’s efforts to reduce prices and increase access speeds, Xinhua reports. The decision was made at the State Council’s executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang and noted that, as required by the Central Economic Work Conference and the Government Work Report, efforts must be intensified to make the country’s internet services faster and cheaper. This would achieve ‘multiplying effects’ of increasing domestic demand, whilst also boosting investment and employment and improving the lives of Chinese citizens. The specific targets set at the meeting include rolling out gigabit broadband services to 300 cities – gigabit broadband is currently being piloted in around 100 cities, the paper cited regulator the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) as saying – and improving fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) coverage as a percentage of all broadband ports to 90%. In addition, broadband networks should cover 97% of primary and middle schools nationwide by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the government is aiming to reduce the average broadband service rate for SMEs by 15%, the average price for mobile data by 20% and the roaming charges for data traffic between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao by 30%. In a bid to improve competition, the government has also ordered operators to implement mobile number portability (MNP) by the end of November 2019. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, China has dabbled with the idea of introducing MNP for more than a decade but has been reluctant to mandate its rollout, citing substantial technological barriers and questioning the level of user demand for the service.

Commenting on the plans, the Premier was quoted as saying: ‘Industrial internet, education and medical care are our priorities in upgrading internet services in order to boost industrial development, improve access to quality medical resources and promote fairness in education … There is huge consumer demand for internet services in our country. We must encourage fair competition, and ensure that our measures to lower internet service charges are fully delivered as they are an important part of our efforts in improving people’s lives.’