China to Tighten Oversight of Telecom Charges, Open Investment

China plans to “tighten oversight” of charges for telecommunications services and open the industry to more private investment.

The government in the world’s largest mobile phone market by users said it seeks to “standardize” telecommunications services, according to a draft plan of 2012 goals released by the National Development and Reform Commission today.

“We will expand the trials for integrating the telecommunications network, the radio and television broadcasting network, and the Internet,” the commission said in the report that was released as China opened its annual National People’s Congress. “We will implement and improve policies and measures to promote the development of the non-public sector.”

The NDRC, a government agency that sets industrial policy, in November announced an anti-monopoly probe of Internet services supplied by China Telecom Corp. (728) and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. (762) The investigation sought details on pricing, volume and sales for its bandwidth-leasing business.

Currently all of China’s phone and broadband Internet carriers are state-owned, with foreign investors limited to minority holdings in publicly traded units listed in Hong Kong.

China Mobile Communications Corp. (JLCBHZ) is the nation’s largest wireless carrier, with a total of 655 million subscribers at the end of January. It is the parent of Hong Kong-listed China Mobile Ltd. (941) China United Network Communications Group (CHTZ), parent of Hong Kong-listed Unicom, was second with 203 million mobile users.

China Telecommunications Corp. (CNTELZ), parent of Hong Kong-listed China Telecom Corp., had 129 million wireless users at the end of January.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Edmond Lococo in Beijing at elococo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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