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  • MII Official Disputes Court Ruling on IP Telephony
  • January 28, 1999 (BEIJING) -- The method of categorizing Internet Protocol (IP) telephone services is the subject of controversy in China, with large phone service revenues at stake.
    In the government's first apparent response to a recent Fuzhou court ruling that Internet Protocol phone services come under the category of computer information services and are open to the public, an official at the Ministry of Information Industry said that only Internet information services, excluding IP phone and fax, are open to public.

    A strict permit-issuing system will be introduced only when conditions are ripe, according to Xu Mutu, director of the market administration group of the MII's Telecom Bureau.

    "We are stilling building and improving facilities for the new sector, and studying how to operate and manage such facilities," Xu said.

    Xu's remarks came after the Fuzhou Intermediate People's Court in eastern China's Fujian province decided in favor of Chen Yan and Chen Zhui, who were charged with "illegally setting up an international telephone service on the Internet."

    Xu argued that China's IP phone service should be administered by the unified State Telecommunications Department, and that no one would be allowed to run an IP phone business without prior examination of their qualifications and a business permit.

    However, Zhang Dongsheng, an official at the State Development Planning Commission, said that China should encourage the growth of the IP phone service to improve the range of choices available to international callers.

    (Xinhua News Agency)

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    Updated: Wed Jan 27 12:34:41 1999 PDT