The telecom provider category increased 1 percent in value in the BrandZÔ Top 100 Most Valuable Chinese Brands 2017. China Mobile, China’s third most valuable brand, increased slightly in value, while China Telecom and China Unicom declined somewhat.
The telecom providers, all State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), responded to government policies aimed at increasing competition, improving service, and lowering prices. Competition heated up as China Telecom and China Unicom, the nation’s number two and three carriers, agreed to share resources, to match the 4G capability of China Mobile, the category leader.
China Mobile served 849 million customers, including 535 million on 4G, as of December 2016. China Telecom had 215 million total mobile subscribers, including 122 million on 4G. China Unicom had 264 million mobile subscribers, including 105 million on 4G.
The telecom providers also faced competition from the over-the-top (OTT) entities that provide free voice and data communication over the Internet, including, as of November 2016, the 846 million monthly active users of Tencent’s WeChat.
In addition, the Chinese government issued a new telecommunications license to the China Broadcasting Network (CBN). The new challenger could accelerate the expansion of “triple play” service, including phone, Internet, and TV.
China Mobile advanced a smart home gateway branded China Mobile. China Unicom linked with Baidu, China’s leading search engine, to cooperate on artificial intelligence (AI). These activities help the telecom providers implement the government’s “Internet Plus” policy to promote technology innovation. Unicom reported a sharp profit decline for the first nine months because of operational spending to improve competitiveness.