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Incoming calls free in new cell services

THE long-awaited advent of cell phone packages that feature totally free incoming calls is finally here.

From now on, all new mobile services offered by telecom providers must allow users to receive phone calls at no charge, the industry regulator said yesterday.

The move will further reduce telecommunications costs and bring Chinese mobile phone fees more in the line with international practices, said Li Yizhong, head of the Ministry of Industry Information Industry.

"New packages must use a one-way charge system, but existing packages can remain. Consumers have the rights to choose," Li told a news conference during the annual session of the National People's Congress in Beijing.

Average telecommunications fees decreased 11 percent last year, following a 13 percent drop the previous year, thanks to the reduction of roaming fees, Li said.

"It is a natural step to allow free incoming calls, as Western carriers launched such services several years ago," said Yang Peifang, an expert at the China Academy of Telecommunications Research under the Ministry of Information Industry.

Yesterday's directive means that all the new packages for third-generation phone systems will feature free incoming calls. China issued 3G licenses in January. China Mobile the was first to launch 3G. China Telecom will debut its 3G system later this month followed by China Unicom in May.



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