China Telecom says that the arrival of 3G has helped it increase its client base by 30 million new mobile phone users this year, a record figure.
To put its performance into perspective, 30 million new customers is what China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile telecommunication company and the dominant China player, is hoping to achieve in 2010.
China Telecom has been incredibly quick off the mark with its 3G offering and has won plenty of fans with its 3G notebook cards and well-priced deals. Meanwhile, China Mobile has been crippled by being forced to use the TD-SCDMA 3G standard and China Unicom appears to have made a hash of 3G, even though it won the deal to supply the Apple iPhone.
With the others struggling to catch up, China Telecom has also unveiled a high-end Motorola Android handset which will allow users to keep their numbers and use China Telecom’s 3G service. This is a major coup. A huge proportion of Chinese mobile users are on China Mobile but do not want to relinquish their number. The ability to "port" numbers from one company to another is not yet an option.
2010 is shaping up to be a great year for China Telecom, and some new statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology show how much further the Chinese mobile industry has to run.
According to the MIIT, the number of mobile phone users rose by 97.32% in the first 11 months of 2009, to 739 million. That means that mobiles have only penetrated 54% of China’s population, which is a surprising figure when you consider that mobile phone shops are on every single street in even the most rural of areas.