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China Mobile targets 500m 4G users

News, 15 December 2015

BEIING: The mobile internet in China is set for a boost in the coming year as leading telcos have announced their intention to offer better 4G services and products over the coming year.

China Mobile, the world's largest telecom carrier by subscribers, has said it plans to reach 500 million 4G users next year.

"We will build 300,000 new 4G base stations in 2016 so that we can offer better 4G networks to more consumers," Li Huidi, vice president of China Mobile, said on Monday in remarks reported by China Daily.

In September, China Mobile was reported as having 1m base stations and 248m 4G subscribers.

Last week the chairman of rival China Unicom said the business would "channel all of our core resources to ensure a better 4G network, faster internet speed and better-quality voice calls".

China Unicom lags behind China Mobile, having only 60m 4G subscribers, while the third major player, China Telecom, has around 195m.

All three are under pressure from the government, as Miao Wei, the minister for industry and information technology, made clear recently when opening the 2015 China International Information Communication Expo Telecommunication.

He called then for the country's telecommunications companies to lower internet prices and raise connection speeds and reminded them of earlier commitments in these matters.

In May, the government requested that average broadband speed for users in certain urban areas be increased from seven megabytes per second (Mbps) to ten Mbps, while average prices for mobile internet and fixed broadband were to be reduced by at least 30% by the end of this year.

According to China Mobile's Li, the company plans to sell 330m 4G units in 2016 through its own retailing channels and partners.

"Selling smartphones is a quite important way for China Mobile to acquire 4G users," he said. "We will continue our efforts in this direction next year."

Data sourced from China Daily, Yibada; additional content by Warc staff