The booth of China Telecommunications Corp is seen at an industry expo in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu province.
China Telecommunications Corp unveiled a white paper on Thursday to detail its demands for artificial-intelligence-enabled smartphones, as the nation's third-largest telecom carrier by subscribers aims to establish a beachhead in the AI era.
Lu Liangjun, deputy general manager of the marketing department of China Telecom, said the Beijing-based company aims to sell 50 million AI handsets in 2018, and it will subsidize smartphone vendors that make such tailor-made handsets.
The move is part of China Telecom's broader push to expand its users by encouraging companies to make and sell low-price handsets that are bundled with its telecom services.
According to a report released by the State-owned enterprise, Chinese consumers have a bigger desire for AI-enabled smartphones than their foreign counterparts. The country's favorable policy environment for AI-startups is also encouraging consumers to embrace new technologies.
Chinese smartphone vendors such as Xiaomi Corp and Huawei Technologies Inc have already unveiled a range of AI-handsets. The move by China Telecom is expected to bring down the price of AI smartphones and make them more popular in small cities.
China now boasts nearly 1,500 AI companies, and the AI industry size hit 21.7 billion yuan in 2017, according to data from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology.