Chinese operator China Telecom rolled out its own messaging app with Internet firm NetEase a month ago to take on the wildly-popular WeChat, and now Yixin has been updated with support for free international roaming calls to Chinese mobiles and landlines (hat/tip Technode).
There is a catch: you only get 60 minutes of free international talktime during the week-long holiday to celebrate China’s National Day, according to Sina Tech. It is also only available for Chinese users traveling overseas — who have pre-installed Yixin — to call back home and not for domestic users based in China to call out to international destinations. According to Phoenix Tech, this has to do with some network limitations.
Still, that’s better than nothing and already pretty generous considering that many Chinese typically take the chance during this week-long holiday to go overseas and have to fork out money for expensive international calls. The move is likely to draw Chinese users to Yixin based on goodwill itself and could ignite comparisons with WeChat.
Furthermore, Yixin could probably extend its free international calls indefinitely or offer lower prices to keep its users — because China Telecom, as an operator, has the tools to roll out differentiating call-related features, and this in itself could possibly help in its battle against WeChat.
As Yixin is not available globally, it is also clear that China Telecom is only interested in defending its turf, but will leave the international dreams to WeChat. It is little wonder that WeChat has been stepping up its efforts overseas — such as by getting football star Lionel Messi to front its advertisements — as it faces such a formidable threat on home soil.
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