Official data shows Chinese telecom operators have burnt 80 billion yuan ($11.71 billion) in the first half of this year to build a third-generation (3G) services network, which, according to expert, is a premature move in China.
Chinese operators have the habit of launching new services before they are well-prepared, Wang Yuquan, senior consultant from research firm Frost & Sullivan, was quoted by ChinaDaily. That significantly hurt the user experience for the 3G services.
Most of the high-end users in China were still those that mostly used voice services and did not have a great interest in 3G services, Wang said.
Construction of the 3G network has been smooth in the world's largest mobile market, said Zhu Jun, deputy director of the telecom development department under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), on Wednesday.
China Telecom and China Unicom have launched their 3G services in 342 and 100 Chinese cities respectively, while China Mobile will also expand its 3G services from the current 38 cities to 238 cities by the end of this year, Zhu said.
However, China Mobile and China Telecom might fall far short of their 3G subscriber targets for 2009 as Chinese consumers did not show great interest in the new service, Shanghai Securities News reported.
The newspaper said China Mobile had set a target of 10 million 3G subscribers for 2009 at the beginning of the year, but slashed the target to 3 million due to poor results from initial tests with netbooks. China Telecom had attracted only 100,000 3G subscribers by now, much less than the 20 million it had originally targeted for 2009.
According to figures from MIIT, mobile phone users in China increased by 53.95 million in the first half of this year, while fixed line users reduced by 10.44 million. Telecom revenue increased only 2.3% to 41.7 billion yuan ($6.1 billion) in the period.