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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Chinese going mobile crazy
New generation of Chinese growing up with mobiles
New generation of Chinese growing up with mobiles
China has now overtaken the United States to become the country with the largest number of mobile phone users, according to official Chinese figures.

By the end of July 2001, China had 120.6 million mobile phone users, said the country's Ministry of Information Industry.

This gives China a narrow lead over the US, which has 120.1 million mobile phone subscribers.

The figures reflect the growth in the market for wireless communications in China, the world's most populous nation.

Going wireless

It amounts to a 40% rise over the number of mobile phone subscribers in 2000, showing that many Chinese are leapfrogging fixed landline services and opting to go wireless instead.

Who's wireless?
10% of Chinese
40% of Americans
50% of Europeans
Analysts say the growth in China is fueled by increased competition, lower prices and the rise of prepaid services.

Chinese officials predict another 80 million phones will be in use by the end of the year.

They expect the total numbers to hit 260 million by the end of 2005.

Even given the popularity of mobile phones in China, only one in 10 use a mobile.

This compares to four in 10 Americans and 50% of Europeans.

Huge market

With a population of 1.3 billion, China offers a huge potential opportunity for mobile phone operators.

Mobile phone manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson see the Chinese market as ripe for expansion, as the country strives to catch up with the developed world.

The three companies accounted for 75% of all phone sets manufactured in China last year.

Mobile phone usage across Asia is on the rise. During 2000, the number of people using mobiles rose by 50% to 230m across the region.

Analysts expect this to continue, pointing out that there is a strong demand for mobile internet services.

See also:

22 Jun 00 | Business
Ringing debut for China Unicom
28 Apr 98 | Despatches
Chinese officials lose their mobiles
26 Jul 01 | Business
Mobile phone giant goes into the red
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