China Telecom is following through on its promise to launch a UK network in 2012, piggybacking on Everything Everywhere’s network for the 400,000 Chinese speakers in the UK.
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The virtual network is scheduled to launch in the next three months, and will be run by China Telecom Europe – a wholly-owned operation with aspirations to provide connectivity to Chinese speakers abroad as well as high-capacity links back to the homeland. The company’s aspirations go no further for the moment.
China Telecom is investing massively in global infrastructure, aware that it lags behind internationally, but it is able to take advantage of its influence at home to sell connectivity to Chinese companies. More and more of those businesses are setting up operations abroad and need reliable connections back to head office.
That’s prompted the company to build what it calls a new silk-road, overland across Russia, via Helsinki and Stockholm, and into Europe, backed up with undersea connections going the more traditional Red Sea-Suez-Mediterranean route (they provide a pretty map here in Flash for the geographically imperfect).
Overland cables are more expensive to lay, but the advantages of being able to tap in at any point, and break down the cost more easily, apparently makes them a viable alternative.
Local operations are just an adjunct to that, which is why the target for this mobile virtual network operator is only Chinese speakers. But France has 500,000 of those, and Germany 300,000, so expect a couple of similar announcements for those countries within the year.