HONG KONG Dec 2 China Unicom
and China Telecom, the country's No. 2 and 3 telecom
operators, have asked Chinese regulators to halt an antimonopoly
probe and will work towards lowering internet access charges
over coming years, they said on Friday.
In November, the National Development and Re-form
Commission, China's top state planner, said it was investigating
the carriers for monopoly violations, the first such probe since
it implemented its antimonopoly law in 2008.
"The company has submitted to the relevant regulatory
authorities a proposal for enhancement initiatives and
application for suspension of investigation," China Telecom said
in a filing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.
China Unicom issued a similarly worded statement.
China has the most Internet users globally, totalling 485
million by mid-2011, but Internet speeds are slow, with the
average broadband speeds ranking 71th globally while expenses
are several times more than mature markets, state media said.
China Unicom and Telecom together account for 90 percent of
the country's broadband business, with smaller local operators
such as Great Wall Broadband Network and China Tietong Telecom
made up the rest.
Some smaller players, such as Tietong, are charged
relatively high fees when they connect to the Unicom and Telecom
backbones for some parts of the networks, resulting in high
internet charges for end-users.
China Telecom said on Friday it will promptly carry out
capacity expansion with other backbone network operators, such
as China Unicom and China Tietong, to reduce the price for
direct interconnection with China Tietong.
It will also boost its optic fibre and broadband access
speeds to help lower the bandwidth unit price of end-users'
internet access, both companies said.
China Telecom aimed to reduce the bandwidth unit price by
about 35 percent within five years, it added in the statement.
For a copy of the statement, please click here
(Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)