Alibaba Group aims to launch its first telecom services in mainland China in June.
The company is working with China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile to provide users telecom services like 3G data and voice calls. Users can start registering online with Alibaba in May for mobile phone numbers starting with “170.”
The move to offer telecom services comes after Alibaba Group said in January that its unit HiChina had received a mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) license from the Chinese government. HiChina was one of 11 private firms that received MVNO licenses from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Experts saw China’s move to offer MVNO licenses to private firms as an attempt to increase competitiveness and stimulate innovation in the country’s staid telecom sector.
Under the MVNO program, the 11 private companies would be able to resell telecom services from China’s three telecom providers, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom.
Alibaba aims to provide telecom packages and services that give users “maximum flexibility” and transparency when it comes to billing and the plans they can choose from, the company said in a press release, adding that more details will be released later.
The telecom packages will be sold through Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms, Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com, and can be paid for via Alipay, the company’s e-payment affiliate.
Although primarily an e-commerce company, Alibaba has been expanding into other Internet-related fields through investments and acquisitions in digital media, finance, social networks and other areas. This year, Alibaba Group has sunk more than $2 billion in an online mapping firm, a department-store chain and a film studio.