AT&T signs landmark telecoms deal in China

US telecoms giant AT&T has become the first foreign company to buy into the Chinese telecommunications market with a $25m investment in Shanghai Symphony Telecommunications.

US telecoms giant AT&T has become the first foreign company to buy into the Chinese telecommunications market with a $25m investment in Shanghai Symphony Telecommunications.

Shanghai Symphony is a joint venture that will provide broadband IP services to corporate customers, with services scheduled to be rolled out by the middle of next year. After completion of the deal, the company will be 60 per cent owned by Shanghai Telecom (STC), 25 per cent by AT&T, and 15 per cent by Shanghai Information Investment. An AT&T spokesman said: "It has taken about six years of discussions and negotiations with the Chinese government to reach this agreement. It is a first step and we are delighted with it. As the market opens further in China, we hope AT&T will be in a position to be further involved." In September, China Telecom announced a radical five-year plan to turn itself into a world class telecoms company. Cheng Xiyuan, president of China Telecom subsidiary STC, sees his company competing in the global telecoms market within three years. He said in a statement: "The formation of this joint venture symbolises the initiation of the open door policy in China's telecom industry."