MIIT to step back from cellco-WeChat row

Fiona Chau
30 Apr 2013
Daily News

China’s telecom watchdog MIIT said it would not get involved in the debate over whether cellcos should be compensated for the use of their networks by Tencent for its WeChat mobile messaging service.

Zhang Fan, head of the MIIT’s development department, said operators deciding to charge for WeChat use would be a market-driven practice, and the government would not take any stance on the sides.

“The government has adopted a market-driven regulation over such new business as internet and mobile internet services, which means the operators (of these services) can, based on market conditions, determine whether or not to charge the service,” Zhang told a media conference last week.

“In fact, since the launch of WeChat in 2011… the government hasn’t interfered and we will also adhere to this principle,” he noted.

Zhang said the MIIT welcomes the early announcement made by Tencent that it would not charge WeChat users, adding that the regulator supports such a move.

Zhang’s remark hints that the government will keep away from the battle between the country’s three major mobile carriers and Tencent over the WeChat issue.

Earlier the three Chinese mobile carriers had urged the regulator to intervene and demand compensation for the high strain the service places on network resources.

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