China Telecom plots UK MVNO

Michael Carroll
18 Aug 2011

China Telecom Europe is preparing to launch an MVNO operation in the UK as part of a three-pronged expansion plan for EMEA.

The firm, one of three regional subsidiaries of China Telecom, is already in talks with network operators about the MVNO and could tie-down deals with partners by the end of the month, managing director Ou Yan told TelecomAsia.

“We plan to introduce services early next year. If [the UK operation is] successful, we will look to other markets such as Germany or France,” Ou said, setting a target date of 1Q12 to be up and running.

The firm will target its MVNO at the roughly half a million Chinese living in the country, leveraging the knowledge and services of its parent firm in the process. Ou claims China Telecom’s “successful mobile Internet service” has made it the largest mobile content provider in China, meaning many services can be transferred straight to the UK.

Handsets, however, won’t be transferred. “In the UK, we will provide SIM cards. We don’t intend to launch handsets,” Ou revealed.

Ou is also considering a brand awareness campaign as he seeks to grow the firm’s enterprise business. He notes the firm’s name isn’t well known in EMEA, making it hard to win potential customer’s trust, and revealed he is considering acquiring a known brand to “boost our systems integration capability,” and “expand our customer base.”

Not that China Telecom Europe is doing badly as it stands. Since founding the firm in 2006, Ou has built it into a company that grew revenues 70% in 2010 and is on track for a further 40% hike in 2011.

However, the managing director is keen on physical expansion, and is considering granting full subsidiary status to its office in Russia while establishing fresh regional offices in Turkey and Nairobi. The goal of Ou’s regional plan is to “expand our business in southern Europe and central Africa,” but doesn’t yet include plans for a direct cable link between Africa and Asia, though Ou said he was seeking partners for such a venture.

In the meantime, the firm is busy upgrading its current terrestrial cable links. Ou says a new link between Russia and China that runs through Kazakhstan is due to be lit this year, adding to two existing Europe to China cables, and one running via Mongolia.

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