China is closing in on the 1 billion mobile connections mark, which it will likely surpass before the end of March, according to the latest report.

According to Wireless Intelligence report, China's mobile connections grew almost 17 percent from 2010 to 2011. Also all three of China’s major operators, namely China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, have launched 3G networks. China introduced third-generation wireless networks in 2009, six years after the U.S. adoption of the high-speed service was hampered by handset prices. Last year’s introduction of cheaper models from Huawei and ZTE spurred a 44 percent jump in monthly 3G subscriber sign-ups.

3G connections surpassed 200 million at the end of 2011, which is still only a fifth of China’s total subscribers, but 3G devices account for 80 percent of all new sales, according to the report.

Among the available smartphones, iPhone is certainly at a disadvantage due to its high pricing. As of now, only China Unicom offers Apple's iPhone. Apple has said its application for a phone to work on China Telecom’s network was moving through the approval process. China Unicom was initially going to miss its forecast for adding 25 million 3G subscribers last year. This was mainly because the carrier focused on high-end users with the Apple device. So China Unicom started by selling handsets from local manufacturers Huawei and ZTE, resulting in a record 3.49 million 3G subscribers in December.