One billion Chinese mobile subscribers in 2014 says report

China will have more than one billion mobile subscribers in 2014, according to a report by analysts Research and Markets.

The company's latest China mobile operator forecast says that total mobile subscribers in China will increase from 706.7 million in 2009 to one billion in 2014, with China Mobile having 686.2 million customers, China Unicom 188.1 million and China Telecom 105.5 million.

These forecasts are driven by strong subscriber growth: the average growth in subscribers across the Chinese operators was 15.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2009.

R&M forecasts that China Mobile will maintain its high market share in the Chinese wireless market over the next five years, for a 68.1 per cent share of total subscribers in 2014. China Telecom's subscriber market share will increase from 7.0 per cent in 2009 to 10.5 per cent in 2014, at the expense of China Unicom, whose share will drop from 20.5 per cent in 2009 to 18.7 per cent in 2014.

Despite rising subscriber numbers, the Chinese market will remain financially challenging. Average revenue per user (ARPU) fell 3.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2009, while subscribers used an average of 3.6 per cent more minutes. Nonetheless, both China Mobile and China Unicom increased their earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, by an average of 4.2 per cent.

China Mobile still makes the most out of its customers, although R7M forecasts that ARPUs of RMB76.49 (£7.35) in 2009 will decline to RMB65.68 (£6.31) in 2014. Meanwhile R&M expects ARPUs at China Unicom and China Telecom to remain stable until 2014, at RMB41 (£3.94) and RMB64 (£6.15), respectively.

More detail on Research and Market's “1Q10 China Mobile Operator Forecast, 2009 - 2014" is available here.

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