China's top telecommunications regulator yesterday unveiled two sets of proposals in its bid to cut the high roaming fees on mobile phones and set a price-hearing conference for January 22.
The plans will slash the fees by at least 0.20 yuan (2.7 US cents) a minute, compared with the current roaming fee of 0.60 yuan to 0.80 yuan a minute, according to a statement by the Ministry of Information.
Chinese mobile carriers often charge users 0.60 yuan a minute as a cross-province roaming fee, which most travelers and experts say is too expensive.
In the proposals, the total fee of an out-of-town call will be reduced to 0.30 to 1.10 yuan from current 0.60 to 1.50 yuan now, which differs based on calling or receiving and whether using the long-distance networks, according to MII.
Representatives of consumers, experts, mobile carriers and the China Consumers' Association will be involved in the conference in Beijing.
"It is unjustifiable that users are charged this high rate as the cost for roaming is similar to email," said Kan Kaili, a professor at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications.
China is the only country in the world to charge user-roaming fees in one network over different provinces, industry insiders said.
The ministry conducted an online survey last May asking people their thoughts on roaming charges. Respondents said the roaming fee should be 0.05 yuan to 0.20 yuan higher per minute than a local call, which is about 0.15 yuan in Shanghai.
Shanghai Mobile and Shanghai Unicom said they have launched special packages for travelers; therefore the new roaming fee level won't affect their revenue greatly.
(Shanghai Daily January 14, 2008)