China Mobile: Let the Market Decide How to Charge Tencent for WeChat

C. Custer
9:00 am on Mar 23, 2013

china mobileWe’re writing a lot about Tencent’s WeChat these days as it continues to grow in popularity. But the bigger it gets, the more users it pulls away from traditional telecom services and the more bandwidth it eats up. Chinese telecoms aren’t happy about this, and the question of whether to charge Tencent for access to their mobile networks or come up with some other way of recouping their losses has been a topic of discussion in the industry for months.

On Thursday, China Mobile Research Institute president Huang Xiaoqing told a reporter from the 21st Century Business Herald that what to do with WeChat should be left up to the market:

As to whether to charge [WeChat] money or not, this shouldn’t be a question for the government and telecom operators, nor for telecom operators and an internet company. It should be decided by the market […] The consumer may not ultimately be willing to pay the price for the bandwidth [needed for WeChat]. But we have 800 numbers that people can call at no cost to themselves. In the future will there be something like an 800 number for data traffic? Perhaps that kind of product will appear in the future.

It certainly sounds like Huang thinks Tencent should be charged directly for WeChat’s bandwidth usage, although he hasn’t said that explicitly here. The idea of an 800-style free-to-consumers service for mobile data is also quite interesting, and a mouthwatering proposition for telecoms that at the moment are seeing social media and messaging apps pull more and more users away from paid services like texting.

(21st Century Business Herald via Sina Tech)

  • Ben

    Crazy telcos. Users pay for price plan right? It’s up to them to use any service they want.

  • DWC

    Greedy… they already are charging users for plans… how are they complaining about users actually using the network? And not texting? You can’t stop that, text era is over for most people esp. on smartphone.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Tencent apps still (must right?) run up users’ data plans… which are all paid for by the MB anyway, no unlimited plans.

    What it should say is, China Mobile is upset they haven’t found a way to leach more money out of this “new” user habit…!

  • Steven Millward

    It’s yet another example of telcos spending more time/energy/money on interfering in the web business rather than improving their often sub-standard main product.

    of course, it does make sense that telcos don’t want to be mere ‘dumb pipes’ in the way that, say, electricity suppliers are. but I think it would be better for users if they were just that. imagine an electricity company trying to charge extra to fridge-makers just because fridges are always switched on – that’s how absurd this all is.

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