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China’s mobile operators instructed to change opaque advertising practices
Following criticism by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the country’s three major mobile operators—China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom—have announced changes to the ways they advertise their unlimited data packages.
According to reports, the MIIT held a meeting on June 8 to tackle the “hidden restrictions” on the use of unlimited data initiatives provided by the mobile operators. These companies were ordered to review the way they advertise these programs to the public.
The companies were criticized for failing to inform their users that once they reach a particular data usage threshold, their connection speeds would be throttled. While China Telecom said its practices are in line with international standards, the MIIT said these limitations should be explicitly stated.
The three operators released similarly-worded statements in response to the criticism. They said they would standardize their promotional material to include any limitations on unlimited data use, inform sales personnel to make these limitations clear to customers when selling the services, and send frequent reminders to notify customers about how much data they have used.
The MIIT also said that charges related to data roaming between provinces would end by July 1 and data would be 30% cheaper by the end of 2018. A three-year program to increase data transfer speeds while reducing costs have resulted in a 90% price reduction for broadband services and an 83.5% decrease in mobile data.
Usage of mobile data has increased by 154% in the past year, increasing to 3.4GB a month. Additionally, mobile data transfer speeds have increased to 19.12Mb/s, up 54.3%.