The biggest external threat to operators today are the OTT players hooking consumers on devices, platforms and non-operator messaging apps. But as China looks to begin a two-year trial of multiple MVNOs, says James Middleton, local OTT players seem the most likely candidates. Could there be a lesson in here for operators elsewhere in the world?
I was in a hotel bar in Hong Kong when I got one of my first major tipoffs as a budding telecoms journalist. It came from a well-lubricated telecoms-industry executive whom I never saw again.
“Look, I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but something big is about to happen in China,” he said. “Can you keep a secret?”
“Yes, sure,” I replied.
“Well, this really is top secret, but the deal is almost done so it can’t do much harm now,” he said. “Virgin Mobile is going to launch as an MVNO in Shanghai. Unbelievable, isn’t it?”
In a bid to compete with its smartphone rivals in the largest mobile market in the world, Apple has started offering instalment plans for its products in China, the first OEM in the country to do so when selling its own products directly. According to reports, the company has taken this step because it has been struggling to shift its products, which are typically more expensive than those of its competitors. Regardless of the near-term competitive environment Apple faces in China the instalment plans are a bold and innovative way for Apple to make the iPhone more attractive to consumers who are used to buying smartphones from local rivals such as ZTE for much less.
China has long been seen as a potential goldmine for foreign investment due to the sheer size of the market, but the trick is always going to be catering to niche audiences within the country’s substantial economic diversity.
The Chinese government is to make fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connectivity mandatory in the construction of new residences. The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will introduce the legislation from April 1, 2013 according to local reports.
Smart grids based on passive optical networking (PON) technologies are set to provide a $1.5-2bn opportunity for fibre and FTTx component and infrastructure vendors targeting China, according to statistics released Wednesday.
Almost two-thirds of the handsets sold in China in 2012 run on the Android OS and China is Google’s largest market for Android devices, according to the latest research from Informa Telecoms & Media. A third of Android handsets sold in 2012 were sold in China, figures from the research firm show.
China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier, has created the fastest TD-LTE network in the world – by deploying the network along a high-speed train line. According to the China Daily website, China Mobile has connected up a 60-kilometre stretch of the Jiaxing section of the Shanghai to Hangzhou high-speed railway to TD-LTE using 18 base stations, and is capable of delivering 15Mb/s at speeds of 300 kilometres per hour.
Anyone reading the news will have seen plenty of reputations on the line this week. For one, a US House Intelligence Committee report levelled more allegations at Chinese infrastructure vendors ZTE and Huawei than USADA has at Lance Armstrong.
China’s Ministry of Industry and IT (MIIT) plans to accelerate the development of broadband access in the country in order to bolster its economic and social development, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.
Russian operator VimpelCom will transfer 1,300 staff to Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei, as part of a five-year managed services deal.
The world’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, has reported first half net profit of $9.76bn on operating revenues of $41.86bn. But in a statement the firm said that competition in the Chinese market – from peers as well as internet players – is intensifying. The growth potential in “traditional telecoms services” is shrinking in China, it said.
A US-based campaign group, China Labor Watch, has alleged that a key supplier to leading handset vendor Samsung is using child labour in its factory. HEG Electronics is described by CLW as “an important partner” to Samsung, working on the production of a range of consumer electronics products, including monbile phones and DVD players.
Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia will shut down two of its four regional sales offices in China as part of its restructuring plans. The news comes in the same week that the firm has slashed the price of its flagship Lumia handset, and the news does not bode well for the company’s 2Q12 earnings announcement, due to be held on Thursday.
Alcatel-Lucent, the France headquartered telecoms vendor, has been chosen by China Telecom to significantly expand the Chinese company’s broadband network in a deal worth US$123.95m.
While many markets around the world have seen lower than expected growth over the past three years in terms of broadband adoption, Russia has bucked the trend by posting big growth figures, according to UK research firm Point Topic.
Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei was told not to bid for any contracts relating to the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) project, it has emerged. Local news agencies have reported that Huawei learned before Christmas last year that any efforts it made to win NBN contracts would be unsuccessful. The reports suggest that government concerns over security lie at the heart of the decision.
Chinese network vendor Huawei has been refused permission by the US government to bid for a contract to work on the nationwide emergency network. A government spokesperson said that permission was refused due to national security concerns. The firm as now asked the government to elaborate on its reasons.
China’s largest search engine provider Baidu has announced that it will launch its own mobile operating system. The platform, which will be called Baidu Yi, is based on Google’s Android OS.
With the LTE Asia conference imminent, Telecoms.com speaks to Alan Hadden, president of the Global Mobile Suppliers Association, about the spectrum challenges facing the Asian LTE market. Fragmentation is as much of an issue in Asia Pacific as it is in the rest of the world, with early movers trying to muster support for their competing strategies.