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Telcos in battle for new users

FEWER new subscribers signed up with China Mobile and China Unicom in May while China Telecom attracted more users in terms of percentage, the telcos said yesterday.

This may have started to change the competition structure in the domestic telecommunications market where China Mobile has dominated for a decade, an analyst said.

"It's a normal situation and a fully competitive market will bring benefits to consumers," said Lv Tinjie, professor at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, added 5.12 million new users - a 15-month low - in May to have a total of 488.1 million users.

China Unicom added 682,000 new mobile users in May, only half of the number of new users added in April. By the end of last month, the telco had a total of 139.5 million users.

China Telecom, which now runs the CDMA (code division multiple access) network nationwide, grew its number of new users by 18 percent, or 2.2 million, in May from the previous month to reach a total of 36.91 million.

Though China Mobile still occupies the biggest share of the domestic market, industry insiders said China Telecom is posing a challenge to it by luring users away from the telco. But the two telcos didn't want to reveal the number of users who switched.

The issue of 3G, or third generation, mobile communications licenses in January will also change the market structure, analysts said.

Unlike China Mobile's TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous CDMA) and China Telecom's CDMA2000 technology, China Unicom's WCDMA (wideband CDMA) is more technically and commercially mature. That will boost China Unicom's advantage over its rivals, said Sandy Shen, an analyst of Gartner, an IT consulting firm.



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