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News Analysis: China to open up mobile telecom sector

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BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- China is planning to allow privately-owned companies to enter the mobile telecommunications sector in a bid to promote competition in a field that is dominated by three telecom giants.

In a plan released last week, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said it will seek opinions on a pilot program for private enterprises to buy mobile telecom services from operators and resell them to end customers.

The ministry said the program aims to allow private capital to further enter the telecom industry, give full play to the flexibility and creativity of private firms, as well as promote market competition and improve mobile telecom services.

Li Haiying, an expert with the China Academy of Telecommunication Research under the MIIT, told Xinhua on Tuesday that the program will effectively break the monopoly of major operators and stimulate innovations in business patterns of the mobile telecom sector.

At present, China's mobile telecom sector is dominated by three giants -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

According to the plan, Chinese-funded private companies will be able to buy basic mobile telecom services from the major operators, add their own services and then sell to customers through their own brands.

The companies will not have to build a mobile telecom infrastructure but only set up a customer service system and other supporting networks if necessary, the plan said.

The pilot program has a series of clauses to ensure the successful accession of private capital into the sector, including requirements on service quality, phone number allocation, as well as the wholesale prices for contracted services.

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