Chinese telcos to pour $59b into networks

Fiona Chau
31 Oct 2012

China’s three major carriers will invest up to 370 billion yuan (59.3 billion) this year in upgrading fixed and mobile network and pushing mobile data and internet services.

Latest statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) showed that China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom spent nearly 225.3 billion yuan ($36.1 billion) on building and expanding their telecom infrastructure in the last nine months. Among which 59.5 billion yuan ($9.6 billion), or 26%, were spent on expanding and upgrading their 3G networks, up 1.9% from the same period a year earlier. Together the three mobile carriers had 965,000 3G base stations as of September.

As of September, China had 202 million 3G users, leading by China Mobile which had the biggest 3G subscriber base of 75.6 million, followed by China Unicom (66.86 million) and China Telecom (59.72 million).

Yet China Unicom and China Telecom are closing the gap with China Mobile, in the race of adding 3G subscribers. Indeed China Unicom added 26.84 million 3G users in the first nine months, beating China Mobile (24.38 million) and China Telecom (23.43 million).

Mobile aside, the three telcos are also pushing aggressively in fixed broadband, mobile broadband, internet and data services. According to the MIIT, China had added 95.3 million telephone users and nearly 20.57 million internet users in the first nine months.

At the same time IPTV subscribers reached 19 million IPTV, while mobile TV subscribers hit 50 million by the end of August.

During the period the country’s communication industry recorded a revenue of 966.1 billion yuan, up 11.9% on year, while profit rose 9.2% to 801.1 billion yuan, a 1.5 percentage point higher than the country’s GDP, Zhang Feng, director of communications development department under the MIIT said.

Revenues from mobile data and internet businesses, meanwhile, jumped 56.6% from a year earlier.

Going forward, the evolution of 3G, the expansion of 4G trials and the country’s continuous push on fixed broadband and internet business will remain the key growth drivers for the country’s telecom market, Zhang noted.

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