It may not be the equivalent of the Standard Oil anti-trust suit, but the case brought by a Beijing lawyer against China Mobile could be a landmark yet.
Activist lawyer Zhou Ze has won a 1,000 yuan ($146) settlement from China Mobile for charging a mandatory monthly fee, China Daily reported Wednesday
The lawsuit claimed the operator violated the rules covering abuse of dominant market under the new Anti-Monopoly Law, which came into effect on August 1 last year.
In a case against filed in the Dongcheng People's Court, Beijing, Zhou alleged China Mobile had abused its dominance by charging postpaid users a 50-yuan monthly fee.
Zhou argued that as he owned his phone he did not need to pay a rental fee to China Mobile. He asked for reimbursement of 1,200 yuan in fees paid and an order against China Mobile to cease charging users such monthly fees.
The court announced settlement of the case, and the withdrawal of the suit, on October 23.
“This means (China Mobile) acknowledges its pricing structure has a problem,” said Zhou, the Beijing-based lawyer. “Today there are many China Mobile users who want me to represent them in similar suits.”
Zhou said the outcome meant China Mobile acknowledged its pricing structure “has a problem,” Zhou is reported to have said.
A China Mobile spokesman said the settlement was payment made out of “gratitude” for Zhou’s suggestions, SCMP.com reported
While the case is unlikely to change China Mobile’s pricing – yet – the fact that the carrier settled is a win for China’s 600 million-odd mobile users. With its customers queuing to take it to court, the suit under the new law is enough to make the giant uneasy.