BT to China: let me in!
British telco has formed partnerships but wants full access
BT has turned up the heat on the Chinese government, demanding that international telcos be allowed to sell their wares directly into the country.
The telecoms giant’s APAC president, Kevin Taylor, told attendees at its Asia Pacific Influencer Summit in Hong Kong on Thursday that it has a good “two way partnership” with domestic operators China Unicom and China Telecom and has set up R&D centres in the People's Republic.
BT wants to expand beyond these partnerships but the government will not grant foreign firms full telecoms licenses.
“China is the least advanced regulatory big player in the world, let’s be frank,” said Taylor.
“We’d love to see it open its doors to allow international companies to sell telecoms directly into China. Downstream, there needs to be a maturity from China which I’m sure will come.”
China Telecom has already launched a UK service that piggy-backs on Everything Everywhere’s network, Taylor pointed out, adding that he’d like to see a similar opportunity given to BT in China.
The other option open to the telecoms behemoth is to go into a joint venture with a Chinese operator offering value add services, but at present rules restrict the foreign partner to a maximum 49 per cent share of the business.
“We’d like to see the needle moved in favour of the international company investing,” said Taylor.
“We could have 49 per cent but there’s no value add. It costs money but with no control.”
The Reg spoke to analysts from IDC, Ovum and Frost & Sullivan at the event and the unanimous verdict was that BT’s demands are unlikely to be met.
Ovum analyst Jane Wang added that China’s three major operators in general are unwilling to partner as they feel there is no value add in doing so.
Few foreign operators – Vodafone, Telefonica, SK Telecom and AT&T among them – have partnered up in China and most abandoned such deals for one reason or another, she added.
Undeterred, BT is pushing ahead with its China strategy, launching a new managed service designed to help global retailers who want to expand into the region to tap the huge market there.
The ‘Retail in a Box’ package includes network services, disaster recovery, web performance monitoring, infrastructure and field services to support multi-channel retail strategies, the firm said.
BT China MD, Eliza Kwok, told The Reg that thanks to mass urbanisation, a growing middle class and a forecast to become the world’s number one market for luxury goods pretty soon, “global retailers need to put a foot in China very quickly”.
“We’re giving retailers the ability to come to China and get access to all 31 provinces and 1.3 billion potential customers,” she said.
Kwok would not name the “local partners” who help BT make the service possible. ®
China embody the very spirit of monopoly. Forget it, BT.
Instead, please invest about 100 times more in the crumbling infrastructure of your own country.
Re: Wild optimism
"...unlike every other..."
Someone is going to be first - it might be BT, it might not, but hit a wall often enough and eventually it will fall.
"...lardy-bottomed monopolist BT..."
Ignoring the fact that even in the UK they aren't a monopoly, on the Global scale they are "just another player" in the world market.
"...they saw everybody piling into BPO and infrastructure support, so they had to do that too as BT Global Services, and that all ended in tears..."
Largely due to the bottom falling out of the world economy, a lot of other players got burned too.
Until such time as Western politicians find the fortitude to mirror China's regulatory scheme Western businesses will not get a foothold in China.
Western economies (especially the US) are eventually going to collapse because we've sold our base manufacturing capability down the river and we've flat out become soft. We regulate our own businesses to the point they can't compete domestically with China, while China outright bars outside investment. They are smart enough to realize they can keep their money in house as well as get our money by allowing cheap manufacturing to continue and we won't do anything substantial about it.
Now finally a middle class is evolving in China and putting pressure (subtle but there at least) on the ruling class to allow more freedoms. There is even a budding environmental movement which will eventually put the same economic pressures on their manufacturing as we have. Once the trifecta of environmental regulation, health and safety regulation and increasing demand for similar amenities as other nations have take root there it will sway the balance back towards our domestic suppliers. The question is whether it will be too late to save our economies. Or will the West become the suppliers of cheap manufacturing and desktop support for the new wealthy elite countries of China, India, etc?
There would be some karma in that, but I don't want to see it come about. Call me what you will. I would prefer that we ALL have safe, clean and economically viable jobs whatever they might be and that the cultures of various nations be respected by all. Since I don't partake of reality altering substances I probably won't be seeing that, but it is a nice pipe dream.