3G user numbers not so hot

08:14, July 30, 2010      

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Chinese 3G operators may be licking their chops as the watch more and more people fondling their flashy new iPads and iPhone 4s across China.

But, they may be abruptly awoken from their profit-laden dreams when they check their user database for the number of local 3G subscribers.

According to a survey conducted by the Horizon Research Consultancy Group, only 4.4 percent of Chinese surveyed are willing to pay for 3G services and 19.2 percent of them have already opted for a "wait and see" stance.

The survey also showed that over 69 percent of respondents claim that they have no plans to use 3G services in the next year.

The current number of mobile phone users in China is about 800 million, and therefore there will only be 35.2 million new 3G users by the end of 2010, according to Horizon Research.

Still, there is a disappointing gap between reality and 3G services providers' previous target to garner over 80 million new 3G users in 2010.

While Horizon Research contends that it may still take time to persuade some consumers to sign up for 3G services, that technological leap may hinge on the services and products offered by 3G operators.

Youngsters and business people are still the major consumers of 3G services in China, since 8.2 percent of respondents aged from 18 to 30 are already using 3G services, higher than 4.7 percent for the 31 to 40 age group and 2.4 percent of people in their 40s.

Peng Jia is a 27-year-old music agent based in Beijing and she is also one of the first group of Chinese 3G users.

"I chose to use the 3G services because I don't want to lag behind the trend," she said.

'Fashion accessory'

"Although the service is still costly, there are actually few times you can use it - 3G for me and my friends is just a kind of fashion accessory," Peng said.

The Horizon survey showed that for Chinese consumers, the most appealing point of 3G services is fast transmission speeds as well as special added-value services.

Some 31.3 percent of respondents complained about unreasonable charges and another 25.1 percent said that they lack meticulous services.

Tang Li, a 41-year-old lawyer, said: "There are desktops with broadband in the office and at home as well as other places I spend most of my time, I need 3G services on very few other occasions."

But, if operators reduce fees by 20 to 30 percent he'd like to use it more.

Betty Huang, a 25-year-old office worker in Beijing, said that she hopes can operators improve the speed and stability of 3G services.

Cellphone-based Internet users in China have exceeded 200 million so far, with browsing news being the most common function used.

Among wait-and-see respondents in the Horizon survey, about 43.8 percent of them are interested in watching movies and listening to music online, and another 40.8 percent are still focused on making phone calls and sending text messages.

Source: China Daily


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