China Telecom to make stateside debut in 2012

China Telecom - AmericaOne of China’s largest wireless providers will be making its way to U.S. consumers sometime in the new year. In an interview with Bloomberg, president of China Telecom Americas’ Donald Tan revealed the MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) service will be competitively priced and will target Chinese-American tourists, students, and business travelers. Basically, this option will work by giving its users one line that works in the United States and one that works in China.

The provider is already in tests with U.S. partners, although Tan would not say what companies China Telecom is working with. But given that China Telecom’s wireless service is CDMA-based, it’s safe to say we can narrow it down to either Verizon or Sprint, or both.

In essence, it’s a light-launch for the China-based carrier that sort of feels like a test run. If all goes according to plan, China Telecom will start investing in building its own stateside service and expanding its consumer market here. Tan said as much: “If the service is growing fast, maybe we can set up our own infrastructure. The money is no big problem for us.”

China Telecom is bent on growth. The wireless company trails behind China Mobile and China Unicom, and has already made strides connecting the U.S. corporate world to China. Now, it’s trying to take on consumers in the broader retail space. Initially, this means marketing itself to Chinese-Americans in densely Chinese neighborhoods around the country.

The growing Chinese-American population will help China Telecom’s cause, but the U.S. federal government’s reticent relationship with Chinese-based enterprise expansion certainly won’t. Huawei was forced to back out of an acquisition of a California-based companies networking technologies after the federal Committee on Foreign Investment raised “security concerns.”

The fact the China Telecom is also undergoing a monopoly investigation could also disturb regulations. And while antitrust allegations are becoming increasingly common in the U.S. regarding tech companies, it’s rather unusual in China.


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