Beijing: China has 500 million cell-phone subscribers in its 20th anniversary of mobile communications, a rapid progress by the country considering two decades ago most of its citizens did not even have fixed landlines.
The 500-million mark was reached and surpassed last month, faster than original forecasts as reduced phone charges have continued to fuel public demand, particularly among rural residents and migrant workers.
Unlike the traditional concept that a mobile phone is a luxurious fashion accessory, it is increasingly being seen as a necessity for daily life by Chinese people.
In 1987, when China first introduced mobile telecommunications, there were little more than 700 users. But the figure crossed 100 million in 2001, the largest in the world then.
The 300-million mark was reached in May 2004, 400 million in January 2006 and now 500 million in July 2007, Xinhua news agency reported.
“Since the birth of the cellular phone, the advanced and convenient nature of mobile technology has left other ways of communications far behind,” Professor Zeng Jianqiu with the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications said.
“Increasing demand for mobile telecommunications is a major reason for the rapid growth of mobile users,” he added.
There is no sign of stopping as China still has a vast rural market to tap and city dwellers’ appetite for more vogue, media-rich and web-accessible handsets continues to boom.
To cash in on the momentum, foreign manufacturers keep churning out low-cost phones and mobile phone operators like China Mobile and China Unicom cut call charges.