BEIJING: Almost a third of consumers in lower-tier Chinese cities now use the mobile internet, according to new figures.

GroupM, the media arm of WPP Group, drew on data from 10,000 people in China's third and fourth tier cities, and found that 32% browsed the web via wireless devices, up by 351% since 2009.

The most popular gadgets in terms of access were smartphones on 20%, versus only 5% last year. Feature phones came next on 12%, trailed by tablets on 2% and netbooks on 1%.

On average, consumers engaging in this pastime dedicated 12.6 hours to the mobile internet each week, a 3.3 hours increase from 2011.

The favoured activities among current users include instant messaging, mentioned by 93%. Search logged 27%, reading ebooks posted 22% and utilising Weibo or microblogging sites secured 18%

More broadly, internet penetration in third and fourth tier outlets stands at 59% today, a growth rate of 18% year on year. This pace of expansion hit 3% in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai, where habits have attained greater maturity.

By contrast, television's daily reach has declined from 92% in 2007 to 84% in 2012, totals coming in at 93% and 81% respectively when discussing first and second tier cities.

Overall, some 26% of the panel consumed content from the TV, mobile and PCs at various points, with 7% of participants leveraging all three of these channels at the same time.

Elsewhere, a 45% share of interviewees had watched TV while using a PC. A further 14% combined PC and mobile, matching the score for using mobile and television concurrently.

Bessie Lee, CEO of GroupM China, suggested that these findings revealed the "complexity in the most dynamic, varied market in the world."

Data sourced from GroupM; additional content by Warc staff