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October 28, 2013

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Cellphone operators offer users free data

The local branches of China’s top three mobile phone operators are offering 300 megabytes of free data to 300,000 handset users as part of the 2013 Shanghai “smart city” week, which ends on Thursday.

It’s the first time China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom have offered the service for free on such a large scale. Each company is offering the 300 megabytes of data to 100,000 users. It coincides with customer complaints about slow Internet speeds, high fees and unstable signals.

Users need to apply for the free data through WeChat, Weibo or the companies’ websites.

Applications must be submitted by Wednesday. Approved applicants will begin receiving the free data immediately. 

Although most smartphone users welcomed the news, some said the application procedure is too complicated while others said 300 megabytes isn’t enough.

“The requirements are too troublesome for China Mobile users,” said Shanghai resident Mao Lijun.

A member of the online community identified as xiandeli said 300 megabytes is not very much.

The three operators came under criticism earlier this year over monthly fees, which were deemed excessive.

A lawyer filed a lawsuit against the Changsha branch of China Mobile in August. He argued the company’s practice of clearing the unused data at the end of each month without offering a refund or extending it to the next month as unjustified. No verdict has been announced.

The case sparked complaints from smartphone users nationwide.

In a recent Shanghai survey, nearly 70 percent of respondents said monthly cellphone data fees were not reasonable and should be over a longer period.

The survey of 2,000 people was carried out by the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission. About 54 percent of respondents said it was unfair for companies to clear unused data at the end of each month.

The survey also found handset users complained about low Internet speeds, high fees and unstable signals.

After the survey was released, the local branches of the three telecommunications operators started offering data packages over three months rather than the usual monthly packages.



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