In the mobile world, there are big numbers… and then there are BIG numbers. 1 billion – of anything – clearly falls into the latter category. Even more so when we’re talking about mobile phone users.
China now has more than 1 billion mobile customers. That makes it the first country to pass the billion mark in that regard, and the subscriber counts are growing continuously. The milestone was achieved last month, according to the Chinese authorities. The official count at the end of February reached 1,006,923,000 users.
If you throw in fixed telephony as well, the number becomes even larger. 1,291,209,000 is the total number of Chinese telephone lines, be they fixed or mobile. Interestingly, mobile lines are way more prevalent than fixed ones, with the latter being only around 284 million in the country.
The number of 3G subscribers in China has grown to almost 144 million, but there’s obviously still some way to go before 3G truly becomes mainstream over there.
On a carrier by carrier basis, here’s how the numbers stack up:
- China Mobile: 661 million subscribers, 56 million of those on 3G
- China Unicom: 206 million subscribers, 45 million of those on 3G
- China Telecom: 132 million subscribers, 41 million of those on 3G
As is obvious, China Mobile remains the biggest carrier in the world with its 661 million subscribers. No other company comes even close. It’s interesting to note how small the gap between China Mobile and its competitors is in terms of 3G subscribers, compared to how things stand in the 2G field.
Interestingly, if you add up all the above numbers (which were supplied by the carriers themselves for the end of February), you won’t hit 1 billion. But the resulting 999 million subscribers are pretty close, so by today, regardless of who’s doing the counting, it’s safe to say that China has gone past 1 billion mobile phone users.
China is set to become the biggest smartphone market soon (perhaps even this year), and it will probably stay the biggest phone market for many years to come. Expect the number of subscribers not to grow at the insane 10 million+ per month rate it’s had so far, especially as we approach 100% mobile penetration in the country. However, when the growth will outright stop is anyone’s guess. Until that happens, China is the place to watch in the mobile world.
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- Nokia Windows Phone sales may explode this summer: ~4 million new Lumia 610s, 719, China Mobile deal