China cuts mobile roaming service charges

Updated: 2008-02-13 23:33

The final plan was a further improvement based on plan B, which proposes a charge of 0.7 yuan per minute for making calls and 0.3 yuan for receiving calls for all users, according to the two ministries.

A consumer representative by the name of Shen Changzheng, who attended the hearing, said the final plan "was acceptable, but was not up to expectations of consumers", adding "there was still a great gap."

Local services currently cost 0.4 yuan, or 5 US cents, per minute for users paying monthly, and 0.6 yuan, or 8 US cents, for those under prepaid schemes

Some users actually enjoyed free incoming calls thanks to service packages offered by service providers, again efforts made to lower mobile service charges amid mounting consumer complaints.

And there is indeed some gap between roaming service charges and local service charges under the new plan.

An online survey conducted by the MII in May 2007 showed that about 63.77 percent of 30,000 respondents supported an equal charge for domestic roaming services and local services.

Only about 22.55 percent considered it reasonable to pay an additional 0.01 to 0.1 yuan per minute for roaming services.

Mobile service providers had explained such service fees were charged to cover the extra operational costs incurred when cross-province calls were transferred from one local operator to another.

Experts, however, said new technologies had lowered operational costs - some argued roaming calls actually incur no extra cost for the operators.

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