China Unicom reports rapid growth

24 Feb 2003

Chinese fixed line and mobile operator China Unicom [NYSE: CHU] has published operational statistics for January, showing an increase of almost 42% in its cellular subscriber base in just one month. The increase was largely as a result of the consolidation of a number of networks acquired from its parent company last December, without which organic growth would have been around 3.3%. At the end of January the company had 61.69 million mobile users, up from 43.11 million at the end of 2002; had the new networks been consolidated earlier the year end total would have stood at 59.71 million. Unicom added 777,000 new CDMA users in January, in line with industry expectations, taking its total to 7.02 million, while GSM customers numbered 54.67 million, compared with 38.62 million a month previously.

Unicom also offers domestic long-distance and international fixed line telephony services, carrying a total of 1.24 billion outgoing call minutes in January, 474.9 million of which were circuit switched minutes and 762.7 million IP telephony minutes. The telco also had 7.61 million internet subscribers at the end of the month, up from 7.29 million at 31 December. According to reports in the local press, China’s telecoms regulator, the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), has revealed that the total number of fixed line and mobile subscribers added in the country in January exceeded monthly averages for 2002. MII statistics reputedly show that 3.58 million fixed line customers were signed up in January, compared to an average 2.83 million per month in 2002, taking the total to 218 million. At the same date mobile subscribers numbered 212 million on the back of 5.82 million new additions in January.

China Unicom/CIT’s Datafile of Asia-Pacific Telecommunications