Government green-lights foreign firms to be virtual network operators

Updated 2018-01-24 15:23:02

Foreign companies will be allowed to be virtual network operators in China, the government said in a draft rule on Wednesday, as it steps up push to open the multibillion-dollar telecom industry currently dominated by three State-owned enterprises.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in a statement on its official website that foreign companies, private enterprises and other State-owned companies can all apply to run telecom services based on infrastructure they hire from China's big three carriers, namely China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom.

"China will soon officially launch virtual network services, and we welcome foreign companies to join the industry," MIIT said.

The rule, which will seek public feedback for a month, came after the country had piloted virtual network services for three years. As of 2017, China boasts more than 60 million subscribers of virtual network services, accounting for 4.1 percent of the country's all mobile users, data from MIIT showed.

In terms of user bases, China has already become the largest virtual network services market in the world, MIIT said.

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