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Chinese subscriptions surge past .5bn

Chinese mobile subscriptions, including PHS (personal handyphone system) account for almost half of all those in the Asia Pacific region. So says Telecoms.com’s parent Informa Telecoms and Media in its latest report which says China exceeded half a billion subscriptions at the end of Q2 2006, effectively doubling the market since 2002.

The analyst group says that of the more than half billion active accounts, 410 million are cellular subscriptions (split approximately 2/3 to 1/3 between China Mobile and China Unicom) and 91 million are limited mobility PHS subscriptions (split approximately 2/3 to 1/3 between fixed-line operators China Telecom and China Netcom).

The analyst group says the two main fixed-line operators in China are both hoping to offer full mobility services from 2007 or 2008 once 3G licences are issued by the government there. But growth is not expected to maintain its burgeoning trend and the analyst says growth in the Chinese cellular market is stabilising. Informa’s China Analyst Tingting Liu said: “Although subscriptions are forecast to exceed the 600-million mark in early 2008 before the opening of the Olympic games, growth thereafter is forecast to slow.”

GSM is the dominant technology, while Unicom’s CDMA operation is struggling to maintain market share (growing at a rate of fewer than 1 million subscriptions per quarter in the year to end-June 2006, this compares with a growth rate for GSM averaging more than 15 million per quarter). CDMA growth was slower than the rate of PHS growth, which averaged more than 3 million per quarter over the year.

PHS growth is slowing, however, under competition from China Mobile, which has cut its tariffs by up to 50 per cent in some areas to bring them in line with PHS tariffs. China Telecom and China Netcom have also scaled back their investment in PHS in anticipation of the need to channel large funds into 3G network development.


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