China has just reached 233.44 million 3G subscribers across its three mobile telcos. Digging back through the self-reported stats for each, I noticed that the end of 2009 is the earliest firm data point for all companies involved, so let’s take a look at three years of stunning 3G growth in China.
The newest numbers for 2012 Q4 show that China Mobile (NYSE:CHL; HKG:0941) is up to 87.93 million on its 3G network, closely followed by China Unicom (NYSE:CHU; HKG:0762) with 76.46 million, and China Telecom (NYSE:CHA; HKG:0728) with 69.05 million. It’s all quite equal (see graph below), and growing at a steady rate.
It’s interesting that the iPhone is not visible as a bump in the charts, but instead it seems to have contributed to the strength of China Unicom (which is actually the country’s smallest mobile telco by overall subscriber numbers) in the long run, allowing it to punch above its weight and closely tail China Mobile in the 3G market.