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Chinese telecom industry in 2009

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telecoms March 24, 2010 (Chinavestor) China Unicom (NYSE:CHU), the second largest Chinese mobile carrier, reported 2009 financial report today, giving investors a chance to assess the latest developments within the Chinese telecom industry.

Couple of key developments: China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) continued to dominate the industry, adding more new mobile accounts then China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) combined.


Profitability of mobile services remain far better than that of fixed line services or broadband.


As the following table sums it up, China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) remained by far the largest Chinese mobile carrier in 2009, boosting 522 million strong customer base. But China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) made inroads - doubling its subscriber base to 56.09 million, growing three times faster then larger rival China Unicom (NYSE:CHU).

China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) remains the most profitable Chinese mobile operator and with the strongest cash flow generating capacity. 3G growth remains relatively small but is going to be future profit driver - so positioning is everything at this point. China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) has the iPhone but it sell for $1,000 apiece, far more than China Mobile's Dell Mini or compatible handsets. China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) has a lrge selection of 3G phones, NOKIA and other extremely popular models for reasonable prices.

Summary table of main events in 2009:

Total Growth 3G Mobile Standard Revenue
million % million 2G/3G [RMB bil.]
China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) 522 64.9 14.2 3.4 GSM/TS-SCDMA 452.1
China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) 56.09 28.2 101.0 CDMA/CDMA2000 20.0
China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) 144.85 11.5 8.6 2.74 GSM/WCDMA 71.9

Fixed line segment:

China is more wireless then wired. Total number of mobile subscribers far outreach wirelines and the tendency is favoring mobile telecommunications. Both China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) has been losing customers albeit at a different rate.

Total in million Change in million Change % Revenue [RMB bil.]
China Telecom (CHA) 189 million -19.79 million -9.5% RMB 78.4 billion
China Unicom (CHU) 102.8 million -6.2 million -6.0% RMB 81.3 billion


China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) started out around the same time rolling out fast internet for business and residential areas. China Telecom added more user accounts in 2009
and is about to grow twice the size of its competitor.

Total in million Change in million Change %
China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) 53.46 million 9.19 million 20.8%
China Unicom(NYSE:CHU) 38.55 million 8.47 million 28.2%

Additional 2009 financial reports related coverage:

China Mobile FY2009 Beats Expectations

China Telecom 2009 revenue increase but net income shrinks

China Unicom 2009 financials disappoint


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