Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will start offering phone service in June as Chinese regulators expand competition in the world’s largest mobile market.
The service will include voice and third-generation data packages on network capacity leased from all three state-owned carriers, according to Alizila, a website run by Alibaba. The packages will be sold through Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall sites and can be paid for with Alipay, the company’s e-payment affiliate.
The HiChina unit of Alibaba was one of the first 11 companies to receive a mobile virtual network operator license in December and is the first to announce details of the planned service. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is seeking to boost competition, lower prices and provide better customer service for users of China’s 1.2 billion wireless accounts.
The country’s current carriers, China Mobile Ltd. (941), China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom Corp., are all state-run. Alibaba said it is working with each of them to provide service.
Alibaba profit more than doubled to $1.35 billion in the three months ended December, as revenue surged 66 percent to $3.06 billion, according to an April 15 presentation from Yahoo! Inc., which owns a 24 percent stake in the company. Alibaba is valued at $168 billion, based on the average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Alibaba last month began the process for an initial public offering in the U.S. that may be larger than the $16 billion raised by Facebook Inc. in 2012.
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