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Telecom operators in cross-carrier SMS pact
Updated: 2004-10-18 10:09

China's four top phone carriers have agreed to make short messaging services (SMS) between mobile and fixed-line phones interoperable, which is expected to boost the revenues of phone and SMS operators.

China Unicom Ltd. said Thursday that its parent had signed an interclearing and interconnection agreement with China Telecom Corp. and China Netcom Group to allow the exchange of SMS between mobile and fixed-line users.

"It will become a new source of revenue for us," a China Unicom spokeswoman said.

China Unicom’s rival China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd., the world’s largest mobile carrier by users, also confirmed that it had signed a similar agreement.

“The company has recently reached agreement with the two fixed-line operators relating to SMS interconnection,” a spokesman of China Mobile said.

Such interoperability would benefit the phone companies and SMS operators, in a nation where SMS messaging has boomed as it has grown into the world’s largest wireless market with nearly 300 million users.

Chinese mobile phone users sent an estimated 120 billion SMS messages last year, up 50 percent from 2002. The value of the SMS market was estimated at US$750 million last year against US$234 million in 2002.

SMS messages cost between 0.08 yuan and 0.15 yuan (US$0.009-US$0.018) apiece for Chinese users.

But Chinese SMS operators, including Sina Corp., Sohu.com and Tom Online, said earlier this year that their revenue growth from SMS had declined due to increased competition, a maturing market and a recent crackdown on controversial materials.

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