BT first foreign telecom company to secure China licenses

The UK telco has secured nationwide licences in China that will enable it to directly contract and bill Chinese customers, marking the first time a foreign telecommunications company has been allowed to do so across the country.

BT Group has secured nationwide licences in China, becoming the first foreign telecommunication company to do so in the Asian economy. The two "value added licenses" will allow the UK telco to directly contract and bill customers in the Chinese market. 

Awarded by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the licences also will enable BT customers in the country to be billed in their local currency, said BT in a statement on Friday. 

The nationwide Domestic IP-VPN license and Internet Service Provider license marked a "major step" for BT in China, the telco said. 

BT's CEO of global services Bas Burger said: "Being able to service and bill locally significantly simplifies the process of delivering connectivity and other communication services. It is what our customers expect from us and we are very grateful for the opportunity to do this as of today."

UK's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox added that the "close cooperation between the UK and Chinese governments" helped secure the licences for BT, enabling the telco to operate across the country. "This major milestone exemplifies the vital work of my international economic department to open up markets and ensure that UK firms are represented on the global stage," said Fox. 

This latest development comes after BT last month said it was removing Huawei equipment from its mobile carrier EE's 3G and 4G core networks. It also will not use the Chinese vendor's equipment in its 5G networks, BT said, noting that this decision was made to maintain consistency with EE's legacy fixed network, which did not use Huawei technology.  BT acquired EE in 2016. 

UK foreign intelligence services recently said the country should evaluate the use of Chinese technology in its 5G network deployment, while Britain's defense minister expressed concerns over Huawei's involvement in the rollout of 5G networks.

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