China Telecom, Unicom set to narrow 3G gap with iPhone 5; China Mobile loses out without iPhone contract

“China Telecom and China Unicom are set to further narrow the gap in 3G subscribers with bigger rival China Mobile when Apple launches the iPhone 5 in the world’s largest smartphone market as early as this quarter,” Lee Chyen Yee reports for Reuters.

“China Mobile Ltd leads in 3G user numbers, but China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd are ahead in monthly subscriber growth by percentage, according to September data released over the past week, partly because China Mobile’s unique 3G network is incompatible with earlier iPhone models,” Yee reports. “However, hefty handset subsidies doled out to attract new 3G users will pressure margins, analysts warn. China Telecom, which sealed a deal with Apple Inc in February to sell iPhones, said on Monday that its net profit declined for the third consecutive quarter due to increased subsidy spending… China Telecom, the smallest of China’s mobile operators, posted a third-quarter profit drop of 7 percent, lagging China Mobile’s 1.3 percent gain and China Unicom’s 27 percent rise.

Yee reports, “China Mobile is the only Chinese carrier without an iPhone contract because of network incompatibility, although the iPhone 5 contains a Qualcomm Inc chip that supports the operator’s homegrown TD-SCDMA standard. Apple, which counts China as its biggest iPhone market after the United States, plans to launch the iPhone 5 in the country in December.”

Read more in the full article here.


    1. While it’s true that CM has a ton more users than CU, almost all of those are pre-paid. The post-paid numbers are just a fraction of the total, and both CU and China Telecom, CT are very close to CM’s numbers.

      If you read the article, towards the bottom they give the latest actual 3G post-paid subscriber numbers:

      “China Telecom increased its 3G subscriber base by 5.8 percent in September to 59.7 million, while China Unicom expanded by 5.0 percent to 66.9 million and China Mobile by 4.8 percent to 75.6 million, company data showed.”

      I’d say 60M to 67M to 76M is very close.

      1. “As of January 2012, China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile phone operator with about 655 million subscribers.[8”

        China Unicom isnt even slightly close to China Mobile. All the providers put together arent even close to China Mobile.

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