China Telecom, China Unicom Work With Probe

China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. (762) said they will cooperate with an anti-monopoly probe of their broadband Internet services by the nation’s top economic planning agency.

Unicom’s wholly owned broadband Internet unit, China United Network Communications Corp., is providing information to the National Development and Reform Commission, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing yesterday. The data on the unit’s bandwidth leasing business for 2010 includes pricing, volume and sales.

China has started an anti-monopoly investigation of the two companies that may result in fines of “billions of yuan,” China Central Television reported yesterday. The program cited Li Qing, deputy director-general of the NDRC’s department of pricing supervision, as the source of the information.

“The company has always been providing its broadband services strictly in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations,” Jacky Yung, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for China Telecom, said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. “The company will fully cooperate with the relevant regulatory authorities.”

China Telecom, based in Beijing, is the nation’s largest broadband Internet supplier with 73.7 million subscribers as of Sept. 30, compared with 779,000 users at China Unicom, according to data the companies released last month.

Unicom, the nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company, said it provides Internet access through its license from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

China Telecom, the nation’s largest fixed-line operator, fell 3.1 percent to HK$4.67 at 11:19 a.m. in Hong Kong trading, compared with a 4.4 percent decline in the benchmark Hang Seng Index. Unicom fell 2.1 percent to HK$16.22.

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