China’s top homegrown smartphone maker Xiaomi has entered the nation’s MVNO market with two new prepaid plans.
Xiaomi is offering prepaid services over both China Unicom’s and China Telecom’s networks, Reutersreported.
The new Mi Mobile business offers both voice and data services. A basic pay-as-you-go plan charging 0.1 yuan ($0.02) per voice minute, text message and 1MB of data usage went on sale today.
A 59 yuan plan that includes a 3GB data bundle and the same rates as the base offer will be introduced in October.
The prepaid foray will help Xiaomi make the jump from a pure hardware company to a service-oriented business. Although Xiaomi’s smartphone sales have been growing rapidly in recent years, particularly in China, this growth is starting to slow.
While companies pursuing MVNOs in China have historically had little success, the entry of such a major company with a well-known brand could meanwhile give the sector the impetus it needs to get off the ground.
Xiaomi is not the only handset vendor pursuing a foray into the MVNO business. Google revealed in April that it will launch an MVNO in the US over the Sprint and T-Mobile USA networks, and there have been repeated rumors that Apple is planning a similar move.