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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Boom in users boosts China Mobile
Person using a mobile phone
China Mobile sees strong growth outside cities
China Mobile saw profits surge in the first half of the year following strong growth in customer numbers, especially in rural areas.

A record 31.1 million customers joined the firm in the six months to 30 June, marking a rise of 21.6% year-on-year. Total customers reached 333 million.

Profits hit 37.9bn yuan ($5bn; 2.5bn), marking a 26% increase in the period.

The company aims to "explore rural markets and expand value-added services" for the year ahead, it said.

China Mobile said it had seen "many encouraging developments" for the first half of the year, with value-added business being the "driving force" of growth.

Remote areas

"We strengthened our efforts in developing the rural market," said the firm, adding that newly-acquired customers from the countryside represented half of all new subscribers.

The firm is banking on further expansion into less accessible areas, which still have considerable potential.

But it warned that reaching poorer customers would bring down revenue per customer.

China Mobile and China Unicom are battling it out in a bid to reach customers in smaller cities and rural areas.

China, which is already the world's largest mobile market, is tipped to have 520 million mobile phone users by year end and 600 million by 2010, according to the government.

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