As of the first quarter of 2015, the number of Chinese mobile phone users reached around 1.3 billion, of which 654.1 million were 3G and 4G users, representing a penetration rate of 50.4%. According to MIC (Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute), a Taipei-based ICT research institute, China Mobile and China Telecom both saw a slowdown in subscriber growth while China Unicom was struck by a decline, but all three operators managed to maintain rapid growth in 4G subscribers.
Accumulated 3G/4G Subscriber Base of China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom, 1Q 2013 - 1Q 2015
Source: MIC, July 2015
In the face of fierce competitions for 4G subscription:
- China Mobile plans to deploy one million base stations, accumulate around 250 million subscribers, and sell at least 200 million mobile end-user devices. As of the end of May 2015, China Mobile had built 720,000 base stations, covering over one billion population, and signed up over 170 million 4G subscribers.
- China Telecom plans to spend 61 billion RMB (US$9.8 billion) on deploying 4G base stations in 100 Chinese cities, with a goal to set up 120,000 base stations in 2015. Besides, the company has terminated new subscriptions to 3G services since April 2015, and will only provide 4G services to new subscribers. By ceasing to subsidize 3G end-user devices, China Telecom aims to concentrate marketing resources solely on 4G business.
- China Unicom takes a more holistic approach to both 3G and 4G developments. The company has accumulated over 100 million subscribers since the 3G era. Although some have lost to China Mobile due to the belated issuance of FDD-LTE license, the 3G subscriber base remains valuable assets for China Unicom to grow its 4G business. Besides, China Unicom plans to expand 4G mobile hotspot coverage in densely populated areas while providing 3G services in rural areas where 4G connectivity is yet available. The goal is to cover 95% of the population with its 3G and 4G networks, and accumulate around 100 million 4G subscribers.
To see more about this report, please visit: Chinese Smartphone Market Development, 2Q 2015
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Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute (MIC), based in Taipei, Taiwan, was founded in 1987. MIC is Taiwan's premier IT industry research and consulting firm providing intelligence, in-depth analysis, and strategic consulting services on global IT product and technology trends, focusing on markets and industries in Asia-Pacific. MIC is part of the Institute for Information Industry. https://mic.iii.org.tw/english