China Telecom Goes International With UK Prepaid Service

After nearly five months’ preparation, China Telecom has launched the first Chinese-owned mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) operated outside the country. The service launched via mobile virtual network aggregator/enabler (MVNA/E) Transatel last week. Branded as CTExcelbiz, the service is customized for the millions of Chinese who live and visit the UK, where the users will be able to access the UK’s largest mobile operator 3G networks.

“With increasing numbers of Chinese visitors to the UK, we will be rolling out innovative and targeted mobile services to our customers,” said Yan Ou, Managing Director of China Telecom Europe.

The pay-as-you-go service is planned to be available first quarter this year, and will allow Chinese consumers to enjoy features in their mother tongue: language voicemail services, bilingual customer service hotline and website, and chat app for content sharing. The service also include unlimited free calls among CTExcelbiz users.

Some would argue that the Chinese telecommunications market is already saturated, but the number of MVNO subscription is keep growing and growing. Based on data, penetration rate is pretty low, at 12% per year as of September 2011, which accounted for 11 million consumers, compared to 128%s growth in overall services.

This is what the leading integrated operator in China’s Southern provinces sees as an opportunity to capitalize on. Growing competition in the mainland, which results in a decline of fixed lines, is forcing telecom firms to make strategic corporate actions like this one.

One of the value added services that have already been planned and confirmed is a suite of Chinese-language infotainment services, which is set to launch at the end of this year. Another plan disclosed is the launch of similar services in other European countries such as France, Germany and Italy by 2014.

As such, this can be considered a pilot project, and mobile users can see more innovation coming up from this newly announced service. China Telecom would need to stand out among the crowd, as other carriers are also offering cheap calls to both local and international destinations.