By November 2012, Chinese 3G adopters reached 220 million, 20% of the total of 1.1 billion mobile phone users, as disclosed by MIIT, Chinese Ministry of Industry and Technology Information. China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom take 37%, 33% and 30%, respectively, of the total 3G subscribers. Each of the three telecom operators adds more than three million new 3G subscribers in last month.

With a large user base, the three operators can hardly make a profit from 3G services. Apart from costs in infrastructure, spending in marketing, such as subsidies in smart phones sold, hinders profits. As of the first half of 2012, the three operators have invested a total of 289 billion yuan into 3G infrastructure, setting up 697 thousand base stations. In order to have more 3G subscribers, all the three operators subsidize 3G phone buyers.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com