Mobile operators China Unicom and China Mobile have started giving out free beer to entice new subscribers, the Financial Times reported. China Unicom got the ball rolling in the city of Suiqian in Jiangsu province, offering 12 bottles of local beer to anyone who signed up for a subscription that requires a US$13 down payment. China Mobile responded by upping the ante to two crates of beer per person. "It's an odd thing. The China mobile market is a duopoly, but they act as if there are 10 competitors fighting it out," said Duncan Clark, managing director of telecoms consultancy BDA China. The speed of China Mobile's response suggests that it will give no ground to its smaller rival. In other parts of the country, it already leads the way in promotions, handing out a selection of towels, umbrellas, cooking oil, woks, washing powder and mosquito repellent to users who make downpayments. The promotions are a means of bypassing government controls on telephone tariffs. China Mobile accounts for two-thirds of the country's 477 million or so mobile phone users.
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