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Foreign Companies Hope to Join China's Telecom Reg

I In the face of the huge potential, especially the opportunities triggered by the upcoming regroups upon the 3G era, in China's telecom market, foreign telecom giants come with their deep pockets.

The UK-based telecom giant Vodafone's CEO Arun Sarin lately said that Vodafone was about to further strengthen its competitiveness in China by taking part in the telecom regroups lead by the Chinese government.

Now Vodafone is holding 3.3% stakes in China Mobile, the largest mobile telecom carrier in this country, which is worth of USD 1.3 billion.

Vodafone is not alone. Spain-based Telefonica announced in Beijing its intention to increase its shareholding in China Netcom, a major fixed line telephone carrier second only to China Telecom, from 5% to 10%.

In June 2005, Telefonica bought the 3% stakes in China Netcom for EUR 240 million, becoming its second largest shareholder. Shortly after that, it increased the proportion to 4.97% in September, and to 5% by December last year.

In July this year, South Korea-based SK Telecom took over a stake in China Unicom, the second largest cell phone operator in this country, for USD 1 billion. The partnership between SK Telecom and China Telecom has been regarded the closet cooperation between Chinese telecom companies and their foreign counterparts.

Now SK Telecom says that it hopes to get greater access to China's telecom industry from the Ministry of Information Industry, the watch dog of the nation's telecom industry.

It has been rumored that China Unicom was most likely to be split up. And its assets would be transferred to China Telecom and China Unicom.

Industry analysts point out that with the mobile networks of China Unicom, China Telecom and China Telecom will have the ability to compete with China Mobile and reduce over-investment during the 3G era.

These profound changes are expected to generate more business opportunities for foreign companies, which hope to hold more stakes in Chinese telecom carriers.

As the number one landline telephone carrier in China's mainland, China Telecom is seeking partnership from cell phone search companies to arm its fixed telephone network-based Personal Handy Phone (PHS) with mobile search service.

Yicha.cn is lucky enough to become the mobile search service provider for more than 65 million PHS handsets users of China Telecom in the coming three years, which will help them to search information via their handsets, insiders close to the company disclose.
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