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Cell phone use exploding

July 10, 2007

By Pou In Kuan

ON AN AVERAGE DAY in China, 135,416 new cell phones are registered. According to China’s Ministry of Information Industry, 67,677,000 new cell phone users were registered in 2006, bringing the total number of cell phone users in China to 461,082,000. Today, thirty-five out of every one hundred Chinese have cell phones.

Although the number of cell phone users in China is larger than that of America, cell phone is much popular in America. According to the survey by the CTIA, an international association for the Wireless Telecommunications Industry, by the end of 2006, there were around 230 millions cell phone subscribers in America, which means seventy-six out of every one hundred Americans have cell phones.

Guangdong province has led the cell phone push in China. By the end of 2006, 7,117,500 people in Guangdong owned cell phones, roughly 77% of the province’s population. In fact, the first cell phone in China was registered in the Guangdong capital of Guangzhou on November 18, 1987. Guangdong was also the first province to allow its citizens to receive news via cell phone.

This forward thinking that exists in Guangdong has proven extremely lucrative for the county. According to a news article from Xinhua, China’s official news agency, in 2006, 2% of Guangdong’s gross domestic product came from the sale of cell phones and its related products. The Guangdong branch of China Mobile, one of China’s biggest cell phone companies, earned US$6.4 billion in 2006.


Zhejiang and Shandong provinces are second and third, respectively, in terms of the greatest number of cell phone users. In 2006, Zhejiang had 30,123,000 cell phone users (65.3% of the population) while Shangdong had 29,160,000 (31.76 % of the population).


Nowadays, cell phone providers aim at bringing this technology to the rural areas, where cell phones are still rare. According to the China Daily, 57% of China’s population lives in rural areas. Only 15% of that rural population uses cell phones. However, as the purchasing power of farmers increases, dominate cell phone makers such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson are trying to cultivate this large consumption potential.

China’s Ministry of Information Industry predicts that by the end of 2007, the number of cell phone users will reach up to 520 million, or increase by 17% from 2006. 



China Daily, “Cellphone makers focus on rural areas,” July 3, 2007: <> accessed July 9, 2007.

CTIA, “CTIA’s Semi-Annual Wireless Industry Survey,” <> accessed July 9, 2007.           

Ministry of Information Industry of People’s Republic of China, “2006年全国通信业发展统计公报,” Feb. 9, 2007: <> accessed June 19, 2007.

Xinhua Net, “移动电话开通20年 粤手机普及率超过六成,” May 17, 2007,  <>, accessed June 26, 2007.

Pou In Kuan is a Journalism student from Washington State University after which she intends to pursue a career in magazines or online media.