The plan floated by China’s useless telcos to get users to pay a fee for using über-popular messaging app WeChat isn’t dead yet.
China’s big two telcos, China Mobile and Unicom, have been complaining for some time about lost SMS revenues due to the prevalence of messaging apps, particularly Tencent’s Weixin/WeChat. After rumours that the government would force Tencent to charge users a fee for the service attracted mass uproar, the telcos seemed to have backed down.
Blaming messaging apps for their shitty business model (which relies upon charging exorbitant fees for the negligible data cost of sending an SMS) is the idea that won’t die it seems. Tech in Asia reports that China Unicom is preparing to introduce a WeChat subscription model:
As foreshadowed by rumors yesterday, the Guangdong provincial branch of China Unicom (NYSE:CHU; HKG:0762), the nation’s second largest company in terms of 3G users, has unveiled its WeChat data plan that’ll start next month. Like BBM packages that are popular around Southeast Asia, it gives heavy users of WeChat an all-you-can-eat data allowance for WeChat that doesn’t detract from the 3G data given in China Unicom user’s monthly plan.
The plan is expected to cost an extra 36 yuan per month on top of users’ existing 3G bill, that may not seem like much, but it’s a 78 percent increase on Unicom’s current cheapest monthly 3G package (46 yuan).
Users will not be prevented from using WeChat on other plans, begging the question of why anyone would ever sign up for this surcharge?
The popularity of WeChat shouldn’t be an opportunity for telcos to cash in by screwing their customers. There is no reason for WeChat data to be treated differently to any other data use, and customers should be charged accordingly.
[Image credit: @bobarc]