China Nears 800 Million Mobile Phone Subscribers

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The number of mobile phone subscribers in China reached 796 million as of the end of May, while 3G subscriber numbers have almost doubled, the government said Tuesday.

Over 9.4 million new Chinese subscribers signed up for mobile phone service in May, for an official total of 48.5 million new users so far this year, according to China's Ministry of Information Industry.

The number of people signing up for 3G service, new to China as of last year, hit 22.6 million at the end of May, up 10.3 million so far this year.

But while China remains the world's largest mobile phone market by subscribers, India's subscriber numbers are growing faster.

India added 16.3 million new mobile phone subscribers in May, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The country's total now stands at 617.5 million.

Both China and India boast populations of over 1 billion.

China's three big telecommunications operators have also reported their mobile subscriber figures. China Mobile remains the largest provider with 549.0 million subscribers at the end of May, followed by China Unicom, which sells iPhones in China, at 155.3 million, and China Telecom with 71.5 million.

China Mobile reported it had 9.3 million 3G subscribers at the end of May, while China Unicom said it had 6.5 million. China Telecom did not report a figure, but a company official said it now has between 6 million and 7 million 3G subscribers. The company reported its last official figure of 5.6 million at the end of the first quarter.

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