China is considering opening the nation's mobile market to privately-owned companies to operate as MVNOs.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has launched a consultation on a proposal to allow state-owned operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom to resell bandwidth for private operators to use to offer rebranded services, Reuters reported.
Under the proposal, private operators would likely offer the new services via full MVNO arrangements with state-owned operators, and the plan will be tested in a two-year trial.
The three state-owned operators would be required to reach reseller agreements with at least two prospective MVNOs over the duration of the trial.
The MIIT said it expects the move to encourage more competition in the mobile market.
The plan has been hailed as a potentially significant move forward for China's long-standing pledge to encourage private investment in the nation's telecom sector, and potentially towards allowing more foreign investment.
But the MVNO trial will not be open to international players, suggesting that at least initially, restrictions on foreign participation in the sector will remain.
Interested parties will have until February 6 to participate in the MIIT's consultation period for the proposal.