China's major telcos stop charging domestic roaming fees

China's three operators - China Mobile, China Telecommunications and China Unicom - dropped their domestic roaming charges some six months after the move was officially announced.
China's three operators - China Mobile, China Telecommunications and China Unicom - dropped their domestic roaming charges some six months after the move was officially announced.PHOTO: REUTERS

China's three major telecommunications firms stopped charging for domestic roaming on Friday (Sept 1), a month earlier than planned, Chinese media reported.

The three operators - China Mobile, China Telecommunications and China Unicom - dropped their domestic roaming charges some six months after the move was officially announced, China Global Television Network reported.

There is no added fee for domestic roaming - accessing a local network for calls or data use - in many countries including Singapore, the United States, and within the European Union.

India's Bharti Airtel said in February that it would abolish domestic roaming charges for voice and data services in April this year.

But China, with its land mass of 9.6 million sq km, has charged for domestic roaming "for years", China Daily reported.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in March this year that the government would ensure more cost-effective information networks, including the slashing of mobile phone rates and abolishing rates for domestic roaming and long-distance calls.

Premier Li said the move was part of the government's plan to build a stronger Internet industry, while delivering the Government Work Report at the opening of National People's Congress, China's top legislative body.

Acknowledging that "in the age of the Internet, faster and more cost-effective information networks are crucial to the development of every sector", the report pledged to increase broadband and lower rates for other internet services.

China Unicom said in a press conference in March that it would lose 1.58 billion yuan (S$S326 million) in revenue per quarter due to the move, the South China Morning Post reported in March.