Chinese Domestic Roaming Fees to Be Abolished by Year-End

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Chinese consumers and businesses will be able to make calls and surf the mobile internet more cheaply soon, following Premier Li Keqiang’s announcement that all domestic roaming fees will be abolished by the end of this year. The move was part of Li’s broader work report delivered on Sunday, kicking off the annual National People’s Congress where government priorities for the year ahead are unveiled.

In addition to announcing the end of roaming fees, Li said China’s three main wireless carriers will substantially lower international long distance calling fees and internet access charges for small and midsize businesses.

A China Unicom spokesman on Monday confirmed the company will end all domestic roaming charges by Oct. 1, and the other two carriers are expected to lay out similar plans. U.S. carriers began offering plans free of domestic roaming charges about a decade ago, and the European Union passed a law in 2015 ending such fees for calls made within the trade bloc. Shares of China’s three main carriers — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — all closed down about 1% on Monday as investors acknowledged the new policies will reduce a shrinking but still-important revenue source for the trio.

 

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