The China leading smartphone maker Xiaomi has just announced two prepaid wireless plans for marking its debut as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) competing against China’s national carriers during the launch event for their all new Mi 4c in Beijing on September 22, also announced the rollout of Mi Mobile.
MVNOs, which purchase network capacity from large carriers and resell mobile plans under their own branding, have failed to gain traction in China, where three state-owned giants dominate the telecoms industry.
But as China’s most popular handset brand, Xiaomi’s foray into the sector could finally kickstart the MVNO industry and provide a boost for Chinese telecom regulators who have sought for years to introduce market competition against the trio of state-owned carriers often criticised for their poor profitability and perceived bloat.
Xiaomi’s new wireless business, called Mi Mobile, will offer voice and data services and utilise either the China Unicom or China Telecom networks.
The launch comes less than six months after Google announced it would launch an MVNO service in the United States called “Fi” that piggybacks off Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.
There have been rumours that Apple is similarly mulling an MVNO business, although the iPhone maker has not disclosed any plans.
At a Tuesday launch event in Beijing, Xiaomi, which was valued at $45 billion after a December funding round, also unveiled its new flagship handset called the Mi 4c, a 1299 yuan (around Rs 13,500) Android smartphone featuring a Qualcomm processor, 5-inch display and 13-megapixel camera.