China's biggest fixed-line provider, China Telecom, plans to launch cellphone service in the US early next year, its Americas president Donald Tan said in an interview. He told Bloomberg the carrier will do so under its own brand and be unique in that it will offer two lines, one for the US and another for China. The ideal customer would be a Chinese-American, but it would also include students and tourists who travel often between the US and China.
Tan added that the company is already in trials with a few wholesalers and will soon decide on one of them. An initial success will make the company consider building or buying its own wireless network in the US. Pricing, while not revealed, will be "competitive," he promised.
The company's potential buyout and use of a cellular network in the US may be subject to a review from the FCC or the Department of Justice. In mid-October, Huawei wasn't allowed to build a US-wide emergency network due to national security concerns, for example. In one case, a Motorola employee was allegedly caught stealing trade secrets for China despite having been born in the US.
China Telecom is the third largest cellphone provider in its home country, shy of China Unicom and China Mobile. Verizon and AT&T use China Telecom's wired services, while Sprint Nextel and China Telecom have interconnected their phone networks.