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China Telecom loses 1.48m users
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Fewer Chinese now have fixed-line phones, after the country's top fixed-line carrier China Telecom Corp reported yesterday it lost a record 1.48 million phone users in December.


This is the first yearly decrease in China's fixed-line phone users since the country started to report such figures in 1991.


Wireless carriers, including China Mobile and China Unicom, attracted customers with price cuts, which has hit the telecom market, analysts said.


In the first 11 months of last year, China's fixed-line user numbers reached 369.31 million, adding 1.52 million in the period. In 2006, the user base added 17.36 million, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Information Industry.


China's top two fixed-line operators, however, reported losing 4.01 million users in December.


China Telecom lost a record 2.7 million phone users in 2007 and its number of phone subscriptions fell by 1.48 million in December, its fifth consecutive monthly loss, the company said yesterday.


"It is mainly due to intensified market competition, especially from mobile operators' free incoming-call packages promotion," China Telecom said in a statement yesterday.


China Netcom, the country's second-largest fixed-line operator, reported losing 2.53 million phone users last month.


"It is an irresistible and global trend that mobile will eat up fixed-line's market share," said Sandy Shen, an analyst at Gartner Inc, a US-based IT consulting firm.


China Mobile, the world biggest wireless operator by users, said yesterday it added 6.6 million subscribers last month. China Unicom, the smaller of the country's two mobile carriers, reported it added 1.36 million users in December.


In the first 11 months last year, the number of Chinese mobile users increased to 539.37 million, adding 78 million in the period. The growth rate was 47 times higher than the fixed-line sector, according to MII.


Chinese fixed-line operators should seek to win more broadband Internet subscribers to make up for the loss of phone customers, industry insiders said.


China Telecom added 600,000 broadband Internet users in December to raise the total to 35.65 million. Netcom had a total of 19.77 million Web users at the end of 2007 after adding 460,800 last month, according to its statement.


China Telecom is also launching new services such as IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) in several cities including Shanghai.


(Shanghai Daily January 22, 2008)


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