Tomb Sweeping Festival saw many people travel across the country and mobile internet service fees increase. But the situation will change this year.
The State Council’s executive meeting on April 4, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, approved a series of measures to further speed up broadband connectivity as well as cutting costs for mobile internet use.
It was decided during the meeting that internet data roaming charges will be canceled starting from July 1, and the cost of mobile internet services and household broadband will be cut by 30 percent. Internet services for small and medium-sized enterprises will also be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.
Dong Jie, 27, working at an internet-based startup in Beijing, said she was both surprised and happy about the set of newly issued policies.
“I feel that the government has been trying to reduce the cost of the internet and telecommunications in recent years. Yet, I was still surprised that incentives in further reducing costs and fees came much faster than I expected,” she said.
Efforts to press on with reforms to boost innovation and increase the quality of economic growth were a priority for Premier Li when he delivered the Government Work Report on March 5.
In the report, Premier Li told deputies that providing internet access on airplanes was important while more free Wi-Fi networks will be installed in hotels, airports and railway stations.
The report also said that the government will do more to speed up broadband and bring down internet rates to boost the development of a “Digital China”. Premier Li said in the report that domestic data roaming charges will be abolished and the rates for mobile internet services will be cut by at least 30 percent, to promote the transformation and upgrading of the real economy.
Dong said her job in sales meant she travels between Beijing and Shandong province every two months, and the use of mobile internet service is essential.
Improving the service and reducing its cost have been frequent topics of State Council executive meetings, and they were also included in the Government Work Report for two consecutive years.
The April 4 meeting also decided on a slew of measures, such as promoting high-speed broadband to reach more urban and rural areas, and making 98 percent of villages accessible through fiber optics by the end of this year. It was also decided at the meeting that roaming charges for international－as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan mobile internet use－will further decrease.
At the meeting, Premier Li stressed that reducing costs will not only benefit people, but also accelerate economic upgrades. With the telecommunication industry at the forefront of the new technological revolution, he said that the core of the Made in China 2025 strategy lies in intelligent manufacturing, “which is based on telecommunication”.
Zhang Baohua, a professor from the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, said reducing mobile internet costs not only helps reduce the financial burden for household internet users. More importantly, it will ease cost burdens on small businesses as well as startups, especially as it was decided at the meeting that internet lines for small and micro-sized businesses will be reduced by 10 to 15 percent.
“Broadband costs for running a company are much higher than household users, and this, in most cases, is a very heavy burden for small business startups. Reducing such costs will help many businesses get started,” she said.