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|Thursday, August 17, 2000, updated at 22:27(GMT+8)|
Hong Kong Mobile Phones Outnumber Fixed LinesThe number of mobile phone users in Hong Kong has soared to 4.6 million, in a population of 6.9 million, amid increased competition in the telecoms sector, the Office of the Telecommunications Authority said on Thursday.
The number of mobile phones users reached 4.6 million by June, compared with 3.5 million last year, the authority said.
Mobile phones now outstrip the number of land lines in homes and offices, which stood at 3.9 million, compared with 3.7 million last year.
"The main reason is competition in the telecommunication sector," said authority spokeswoman Kay Yau Ka-yee.
Hong Kong is believed to have the highest penetration rate of mobile phones in Asia.
There are six mobile telephone operators in Hong Kong running 11 networks, said Yau.
The competition has dragged down prices, and at the same time brought about a lot of basic added services at reasonable prices, said Yau.
"Now, many people in Hong Kong have at least one mobile telephone as the product has become a basic service in everybody's life," she said.
"People in Hong Kong like to keep regular contacts with relatives, friends and business partners and can do it anywhere with the mobile phone."
A price war between Hong Kong's six mobile networks broke out early last year when customers were for the first time allowed to switch companies without having to change their phone numbers.
Now almost 140,000 people change networks every month to take advantage of discounts and offers.
Yau said there is an enormous market ahead as Hong Kong is planning to introduce the latest third generation mobile telephone.
"I think with the 3G the market will continue to grow," said Yau.
The authority will start to accept applications for 3G licencing later this year, she said.
"The 3G mobile telephone will be like an electronic purse in which one can do shopping, booking, or even use it as camera," said Yau.
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