China overestimates 3G numbers by HALF
Domestic 3G/landline hybrid counted as pure 3G by mistake
The Chinese government has been forced into an embarrassing u-turn after admitting that previously estimated figures for 3G subscriptions in the country were double what they should have been.
Wei Leping, deputy standing director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Communications Science & Technology Commission, broke the news at the 2012 Broadband Communications and M2M Summit in the capital on Friday, according to Beijing-based IT consultancy Marbridge Consulting.
The latest figures proudly announced by MIIT vice minister Shang Bing last month put the figure at 152 million, which means the actual number is more like 75 million, although Marbridge puts it a bit higher at around 80m.
The blame for the confusion was levelled very squarely at the world's biggest mobile operator, China Mobile.
Although China Unicom’s subscriber figures were apparently “relatively trustworthy” as they were based on actual 3G mobile plans, market leader China Mobile’s numbers were comprised mainly of terminal sales, which included a hefty number of wireless landline phones based on its home-grown TD-SCDMA 3G standard.
Apart from not being true mobile phones, these devices are only capable of basic voice and text functions, said Marbridge.
With over one billion mobile phone users in the People’s Republic, the revised 3G figures show China is further back in its mobile internet evolution than previously thought, despite the huge success of the iPhone and others in the high end smartphone market like Samsung's Galaxy range and Xiaomi’s sleek Mi-one.
Most users still have 2G or basic, non-internet connected devices, with Nokia and Symbian the leading handset maker and platform provider respectively.
3G uptake is moving at a rapid pace in China, however, with operators cutting the price of 3G plans and improving their historically poor quality of service, while handset makers look to persuade punters to make the leap from feature phones by offering more choice at the budget end of the smartphone space.
With 4G still at least two years away, the next 12 months is likely to see 3G uptake surge past the 150m user mark ... for real this time. ®
Surely your headline should be 'China overestimates 3G numbers by 100%' or simliar - the current version implies the overestimate was 50%, which contradicts what the article says.
My favourite pedant too
What do they mean when they say "reduced speed by 5 times""?
If they said a 5 times reduction in velocity, that's easy. If they started out at 20 metres per second forward then they'd be going backwards at 80 metres per second. Not the 4 metres per second many would be hoping for.
But speed has no direction, so a reduction of speed by 5 times is impossible unless you started off stationary.
I tried a little rant like that when answering an exam question at high school which lost me a few percent. Sometimes there are more important things than marks.
I've got a lot more tolerant of human foibles as I have grown older.
Depends on what you call 3G
I live in China and happily move along on my HTC Desire with China Unicom and their "3G" service. Unless the phone is lying, that actually uses HSDPA.
The China mobile that most people use, and Unicom drops to on the metro is Edge. I thought that was considered 3G, or is that only 2.5G?
iPhones are incredibly popular here - but the major use for them in is to get weibo (microblogging) or read text based web pages. The 3G services are available (if you want to cripple yourself with a CDMA tech that only works there or you can go with Unicom).
People here are penny pichers - they want the iPhone to show off, but most of them don't have demand for videos or music streaming. They will simply download it and put it on their phones.
Chinese home-grown services like PPTV / PPS let users stream movies, but also download them. Copyright is non existent here. If you have a Chinese IP - Baidu has an MP3 search feature that lets you download any music you want. It's no surprise that outside of China the MP3 search doesn't work - the government doesn't want the west making accusations of rife copyright fraud.
You're right, subs will go up as will demand. But the demand is of a completely different nature here. The explosion of bandwidth use from apps such as spotify won't happen, because people won't pay unless the culture completely changes.