Report: China to add 46M mobile users this year

China will have 132 million mobile phone users by the end of this year, a gain of 46.4 million for the year, Ministry of Information Industry (MII) official Xu Xiaotian predicted in a speech this week, according to the official China Daily.

About 25 million more Chinese also will become fixed-line phone subscribers this year, bringing the total number of fixed-line users to 169 million, according to the Wednesday report by China Daily.

China is the world's second-largest mobile-phone market behind the U.S. In June this year, there were already 117 million mobile users, up from 85 million at the end of 2000, according to MII.

By contrast, China has only 26.5 million Internet users, the government-backed China Internet Network Information Center said in the results of a July survey. The country's total population is over 1 billion. Some analysts believe mobile wireless services such as 3G (third-generation) high-speed data will provide the first experience of the Internet for most Chinese.

The country's telecommunication market is scheduled to open up to greater foreign ownership over a period of several years following its entry in to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which may come as early as the end of this year.

Most of the major makers of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) equipment, as well as a number of Chinese vendors, are involved in manufacturing or development in addition to sales in China. A recent commitment by mobile operator China United Telecommunications Corp. to build CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) networks nationwide opened up opportunities for several Chinese and foreign equipment makers.

Commercial 3G data and voice services using the partly Chinese-developed TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code-Division Multiple Access) standard will be rolled out by the middle of next year and should attract hundreds of thousands of subscribers by the end of 2002, said Klaus Maler, general manager of TD-SCDMA at German equipment maker Siemens AG, this week at CeBIT Asia in Shanghai. He expects 3G users to number 40 million by 2005.

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