China Telecom looking to expand into US consumer market, eyes 2012 launch

Instead of resting on its laurels as China's third-largest wireless provider, China Telecom is now looking to branch out into relatively uncharted waters -- namely, the US consumer market. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Donald Tan, president of China Telecom Americas, confirmed that his company plans to bring its own branded wireless service to select US markets next year, in the hopes of capitalizing on the large Chinese communities and consumer bases scattered across the country. According to Tan, the proposed service would provide customers with handsets that could be used in both China and the US, theoretically appealing to Chinese-Americans, students or businessmen who travel frequently between the two countries. The exec didn't reveal much in the way of pricing, saying only that it would be "competitive," though he did acknowledge that the service is already undergoing trials with several unnamed wholesale partners. If the trial goes swimmingly, he added, China Telecom may expand it to Canada, as well, and would even consider purchasing or constructing its own network in the States (pending FCC approval, of course). The provider, which has already been marketing its services to US corporations for a decade, also has the capacity to spend "hundreds of millions or billions" on stateside acquisitions, though none are currently on the table. "We want some acquisitions in the U.S. and other countries on this continent," Tan explained. "It's a very quick way to growth."