Manufacturing News

Foreign telecom companies eye China market's growth prospects

Foreign telecom operators have found ways to grow in the Chinese market, as China starts to show its potential and becomes an important revenue driver for them.

Because of regulatory restrictions, foreign telecom carriers are not allowed to conduct basic telecom businesses, such as operating wireless networks and providing phone-call services,in China.

The Chinese telecom market is dominated by three domestic operators — China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom Ltd and China Telecom Co Ltd.

However, international telecom companies have managed to explore other business opportunities and have benefited from China's rapid economic development in recent years.

One such company is BT Group Plc, Europe's largest telecom services wholesaler by revenue and a leading networked IT services provider.

BT, which entered the mainland market in 1985, targets multinational corporations with a presence in China and Chinese companies with operations across or outside the country, said Kevin Taylor, BT Asia-Pacific president.

Since the global economy is experiencing a downturn, especially in the European market, BT has started to pay more attention to emerging markets. BT announced an investment plan in September 2010 to rapidly expand its Asia-Pacific business, followed by similar plans for Latin America in October last year and Turkey, the Middle East and Africa earlier this year.

In the Asia-Pacific region, BT added 300 new employees earlier this year, including local leadership and additional professional-services staff. The total number of employees in the region has surpassed 2,500.

"We achieved a satisfactory business growth in China last year, a double-digit growth rate, and the business is even better this year," Taylor said.

Though the Chinese economy has faced downward pressure, Eliza Kwok, managing director of BT China, said the company has felt no negative impact from that, and she is optimistic about its business in China.

"Over the next 10 years, the Chinese government has clear strategic plans over several fields, such as cloud computing, medical-care reform and education. All of those plans will provide opportunities for BT business in China," she said.

Meanwhile, as more Chinese companies expand overseas, they need to find a global partner to provide information communication technology solutions, Kwok said. Companies such as Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, China Construction Bank Co and Air China Ltd have already partnered with BT in their businesses overseas. BT is the largest global provider of network services for multinational companies.

AT&T Inc, the largest US telecom carrier by subscribers, is also eyeing more business opportunities in China as multinational corporations enter the country's inland areas and Chinese firms increase their overseas presence. The company is set to expand its existing IP-VPN service in China, said Greg Brutus, head of communications of AT&T Asia-Pacific.

Orange Business Services, a French telecom company, has more than 200 employees located in offices in China, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

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