China Telecom will launch its own OTT messaging app via a joint venture with NetEase.
The move comes after its main rivals China Mobile and China Unicom introduced similar services.
The operator’s president and COO Jie Yang described the venture as “a crucial step in China Telecom’s strategic transformation” in terms of developing mobile internet solutions. NetEase is providing full support for the app’s development.
The app, known as YiChat, allows consumers to send voice and text messages for free to any mobile or fixed line number, as well as enabling photo messaging and environmental noise reduction. The receiving device does not need to have YiChat installed. China Telecom will promote the service to users via free data packages.
China Unicom recently announced a partnership with Tencent to offer a similar OTT app known as Weixin (WeChat outside China) via a new SIM card, which is now available in Guangdong province. The SIM includes a data package devoted to Weixin-related services. The service has reportedly proven popular, with over 700,000 SIMs pre-ordered within 24 hours of launch.
Meanwhile in June market leader China Mobile launched its Jego service. In addition to providing voice and text services, the app provides benefits for travelling users in that it allows free calls and texts to Chinese numbers from outside the country.