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All mobiles working on Line 8

MOBILE phone signals are now available for all carriers on the Line 8 extension, the Metro operator said yesterday.

China Unicom and China Telecom signals started yesterday, Shanghai Shentong Metro Group said.

After complaints that only China Mobile phones could pick up a signal on the line, the Shanghai Communications Administration went to inspect at Metro stations and believed the Metro operator were blocking the China Unicom and China Telecom signals.

But Shentong denied the accusation, saying it was just testing the signals and that the China Mobile service was available first because, as the major carrier, it was tested first.

The Metro operator told Shanghai Daily that it was still negotiating with the three mobile operators over signal rental and maintenance prices. It would not say whether it had reached an agreement with China Mobile.

The Shanghai Communications Administration said blocking a mobile signal could attract a fine up to 1 million yuan (US$146,400) under the state's telecommunications law.

"We decided that the signal was blocked not for the technical defaults after we conducted investigations on the stations for both carriers," said administration official Sun Dongyuan.

But Shentong said it was just testing the signal system. "It is impossible for us to block the signal just because we did not reach an agreement with mobile phone carriers," said Shentong official Feng Hao.

Shanghai Daily reported on Tuesday that the Metro operator and the mobile carriers were in a dispute over the rent of some base stations.

The Metro firm said it had invested a lot on the cable system but telecom carriers complained the prices as "unreasonable."

The carriers said they had to pay 1.6 million yuan for each base station built on Metro lines and an additional 400,000 yuan annually in maintenance fees which they thought were too high.

Carriers said they had to pay a total of 100 million yuan to cover all Metro lines in Shanghai.

However, Shentong denied it was charging such high fees.

Soon after the dispute came to light, the communication authority said the Metro operator had no right to charge a so-called "service entering fee" for base stations under the telecom law.

The regulator said on Thursday that it would send a letter to the Metro firm, urging it to be "cooperative" and to speed up restoring the signal system.

However, the Metro operator yesterday said a letter would do little to solve the dispute. It also said it would closely monitor mobile phone signals as the system was still unstable.

The carriers yesterday said the base stations work fine in the stations but would not comment further.


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