NEW YORK (Trefis) -- China, the world's largest mobile phone market, saw a total of about 12 million new subscriber additions in June. This took the total mobile subscriptions in China to 1.05 billion, well past the 1 billion mark it had crossed in March. To put this number in perspective, the U.S. currently has just over 330 million active connections in all.
While the Chinese figure may not be reflective of the actual number of mobile users in the country as some of these connections are currently inactive, it is still a compelling statistic that shows the huge growth opportunity that China presents for many smartphone manufacturers. At the same time, it is also a huge opportunity for the incumbent Chinese telecom providers such as China Mobile (CHL), China Unicom (CHU) and China Telecom (CHA)to tap their huge 2G subscriber base and drive the demand for the more lucrative 3G data services.
Of the three Chinese carriers, China Telecom may be the smallest but its subscriber base of over 144 million easily puts most wireless carriers in the developed world to shame. The largest wireless carrier in the U.S., Verizon (VZ) , has about 110 million total connections currently and it operates in an increasingly saturated market.
On the other hand, China's 3G penetration is only about 17% and is likely to increase heavily in the coming years as smartphone makers target China. As a result, China's smartphone market is growing by leaps and bounds and is poised to become the largest by the end of the year.Armed with the iPhone, the Lumia, as well as a horde of cheaper Android handsets, China Telecom looks set to ride the widespread 3G transition in the coming years. We have a $65 price estimate for China Telecom stock, which is about 40% ahead of the current market price. See our full analysis for China Telecom's stock here.
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