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No happy ring to roaming call fee cuts
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08:52, February 15, 2008

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A move to cut domestic mobile-phone roaming service charges has apparently failed to satisfy the public, according to an online poll.

Most respondents said the proposed charges were still too high.

The Ministry of Information Industry and National Development and Reform Commission announced the new charges on Wednesday.

With effect from March 1, domestic mobile-phone users will be charged a maximum 0.6 yuan (8 cents) per minute for making calls outside their local service area, and 0.4 yuan per minute for receiving them.

This means that the country's 539 million mobile subscribers will be able to enjoy price cuts ranging from 54 percent to 73 percent from next month, or no later than May 1.

The new charges, however, appear to have failed to satisfy most consumers, who want the roaming charges to be completely scrapped.

An online survey conducted yesterday by Sina.com, one of the country's most popular news portals, showed that nearly 85 percent of the 50,000 respondents regarded the roaming fees "still too high".

Just 1.2 percent said they were "low enough", while 14.6 percent considered them to be "reasonable".

The move to cut charges follows increasing complaints that the telecom industry "is reaping huge profits at the expense of phone users".

Last month, a public hearing was held to discuss two proposed plans on cutting charges. It was attended by five consumers - including one from Beijing - as well as representatives from service providers, experts, scholars and government officials.

This plan announced on Wednesday is based on one discussed at the hearing, which proposed a charge of 0.7 yuan per minute for making calls and 0.3 yuan for receiving them, according to the two ministries.

Service providers said some users actually enjoy free incoming calls depending on the packages offered.

The providers said the fees are based on the extra costs incurred when calls have to be transferred from one operator to another. Experts, however, said new technologies had lowered costs, and some argued that roaming calls actually incur no extra costs for operators.

Source:China Daily/Xinhua

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