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Mobile phone penetration tops 50% in China for the first time

THE penetration rate of mobile phones in China passed 50 percent at the end of April, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

The Chinese handset user base grew by 8.47 million in April to hit 678 million. The mobile penetration rate reached 50.7 percent by the end of last month, the ministry said yesterday.

"There is still room for China to develop its telecommunications industry as its mobile penetration rate is still comparatively low," said Sandy Shen, a Shanghai-based telecommunications analyst at Gartner Inc, an IT consulting firm.

In the United States and many European countries, mobile penetration rate is above 80 percent. In some countries it is at 100 percent, because many people have two or even three mobile phones, Shen said.

The fixed-line subscriber base in China dropped 7.59 million in April to 333.21 million, meaning for the first time more than twice as many phone users in China were talking on mobiles than on fixed lines, the ministry said.

China issued third-generation mobile communications, or 3G, licenses in January. 3G services include high-speed Internet access, video calls and film downloads.

All major mobile phone firms from Nokia, Motorola and LG to Lenovo Mobile have launched 3G phones in China. Some handset models were co-developed by carriers such as China Mobile and China Telecom.

China's telecommunications revenue reached 273.51 billion yuan (US$40.22 billion) in the first four months of 2009, a year-on-year growth of 2 percent. Fixed-asset investment in telecommunications, mainly boosted by 3G-network construction, hit 64.78 billion yuan, a 16.9 percent rise from a year ago, the ministry said.



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