The Chinese government has confirmed that it plans to create four major telecoms operators by 2004, each with a license for fixed line and mobile services. The government believes this will allow it to manage competition in the market.
Two fixed line operators – China Telecom and the new company formed from merging China Telecom’s northern assets with China Netcom – stand to gain mobile licenses under the new scheme, first reported in October 2001.
At the moment, there are seven companies that operate or plan to operate telecoms services in China. It seems likely that the government will encourage some of the existing operators to merge. Even so, the new plan is likely to restrict the opportunities for foreign operators in the Chinese market.