07 Sep 2010
Policymakers in China want to promote convergence and competition in the country’s telecom, broadcast television and internet industries.
Cable operators have a much weaker financial and market position than telcos, but will receive significant support from SARFT, the broadcasting regulator.
In contrast, telcos will struggle to gain access to content resources under China’s complex regulatory scheme. This has the potential to upset the telcos’ dominance of the fixed market in China.
Fixed communications has traditionally been dominated by China Telecom in the south and China Unicom in the north of the country, and this did not change during the 2008 restructure of the industry.
Some competition has come from the cable TV operators, which were allowed to offer broadband access in 2008. However, cable operators were not allowed to offer voice services. In contrast, the telcos were allowed to offer voice and broadband access, but were not allowed to offer broadcasting services.
In January 2010, the State Council announced that telcos and cable operators would be allowed to offer triple-play services. The State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will jointly implement trials of China’s new convergence policy in selected cities until 2012.