China's 1 Billion: Just a Stat

4:15 AM -- China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced in the past few days that China has broken through the 1 billion mobile subscriptions barrier, with the operators having added more than 20 million lines between them during each of the first two months of the year. See this AFP article for more details.

It's an amazing figure. But does this mean there are 1 billion mobile users in China? No, it doesn't. It means that the country's operators have, since they began their mobile operations, activated 1 billion lines, many of which were pre-paid and will now be unused.

It's the same in India, where the authorities now track active line usage. While India's operators have activated more than 900 million lines in total by the end of January this year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) noted that about 660 million of those were active, leaving more than 240 million mobile connections inactive. (See Mobile Line Count Tops 900M.)

For a bit more background, check out this blog (written as the 1 billion milestone was approaching) by Robert Clark, a Light Reading contributor and long-time reporter on the Asia/Pacific telecom market.

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— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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