The battle in OTT service sector is reaching a feverish pitch as major players of the industry competed to offer free data service via cooperation with telecom carriers. Laiwang and EasyChat, two latecomers of the industry, confirmed that they will launch free data plan to compete head-on with the current reigning WeChat, which reportedly recorded 600 million users (report in Chinese).

WeChat partnered up with Guangdong Branch of China Unicom this July to release WeChat Wo SIM card, which features low-budget data plan, blazing a trail in cooperation between telecom operators and OTT services.

After launching an ALL IN strategy for promotion of Laiwang, Alibaba recently confirmed that it is in talks with telecom carriers to offer free data plan for Laiwang and Mobile Taobao.

EasyChat disclosed that Telecom will pay for the data charges generated by EasyChat for China Mobile and China Telecom users by the end of this year. This service is only available for China Telecom users when EasyChat debuted one month ago.

With the booming demands for data service, free data will be an effective selling point to attract users. The monthly average traffic for mobile Internet users hiked 40.7% to 128.3M during the first eight months of this year, according to data released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. With the launch of 4G networks, this figure is going to soar in the long run.

Telecom carriers are willing to take part in such cooperation, because they want to integrate various contents into their business and provide corresponding preferential programs, which enable them to share revenues with OTT services, according to the report.

Hong Bo, an IT industry commenter, thinks that this trend is a win-win model for all the three parties. Telecom carriers can attract more subscribers, user don’t have to worry about hefty data charges and OTT services can increase user stickiness.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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