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August 20, 2016

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Roaming fees to be axed by end of 2016

CHINA will abolish the nearly two-decade-old domestic roaming fees for voice communications by the end of this year, telecommunication carriers said yesterday.

The scrapping of the fees will have limited impact on the state-owned telcos’ profit and revenue as China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have switched from traditional voice business to 4G and various data services, analysts said.

Besides consumers have already adopted instant messages tools like WeChat, FaceTime and QQ for communications instead of relying on traditional voice communications.

China Mobile, the country’s largest operator with over 800 million users, said it would scrap domestic roaming charges by the end of 2016. It has stopped selling new service packages that include domestic roaming charges, said Li Yue, president of China Mobile.

In Shanghai, China Mobile has already stopped charging users domestic roaming fees in all 4G packages. The new policy will take effect by the end of this year, the carrier told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

China Mobile had over 429 million 4G users by the end of June, making up 51 percent of its total subscribers. It’s developing music, video, reading and games to keep growing.

China Unicom will cancel the roaming fees from October 1 and China Telecom will adopt the new policy by year-end.

The roaming fees, almost double local call costs on average, is a hotly-debated issue in China. Many consumers and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology — the regulator — have asked the telecom carriers to abolish them.

In April, the ministry was said to require the carriers to “gradually stop charging” them.


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