Chinese mobile users slow to take up G3

by PYB James | Dec 10, 2010

Chinese mobile phone users are still dragging their heels over switching to 3G according to a report from the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

More people are switching to the next generation network but it is a long way from becoming the first choice for mobile users in the world’s largest country.

The numbers involved are, as expected, staggering. The report states that at the end of October, China’s 3G users amounted to 38.6 million, a rise of 300% on the previous year.

However, that huge figure still only amounts to a fraction of the 800 million total cell phone users in the Republic of China.

The country’s largest carrier, China Mobile launched the first 3G next generation network in January 2009.

China Mobile is aiming for a government-set target of 50-80 million 3G users signed up to its own network by the end of 2011. However, the company has so far only been able to sign up 16.9 million users. Analysts also believe even that number has been bumped up by users of China Mobiles ‘wireless wireline’ phone system, which connects users via 3G to landline phones.

China has two other large carriers, of which China Unicorn has 11.6 million 3G users and China Telecom, which has 10 million.

Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting, based in Beijing said "All of the operators had initially expected to have a considerably greater number of users by the end of 2010.”

“I think for China Mobile, from the outset, that number would have been difficult, if not impossible to achieve. But even the other two operators had hoped to see a much brisker uptake."

Natkin also said that despite good sales for new smartphones many Chinese mobile users are staying with older 2G networks because of a perception of higher costs associated with 3G and the available features and applications.

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