Record growth of mobile customers in China; Pakistan market also booming

Net additions of mobile customers in China in April 2007 topped 6.9m, breaking the record of 6.8m set just a month ago in March. 2007 has clearly been the strongest year ever in the Chinese market, so far at least, with a total of 26.3m new connections being added in the first four months of the year, against 21.9m over the same period in 2006, 18.6m in 2005 and 20.7m in 2004.
The total customer base in China grew to 469.8m at the end of April, with all but 38.5m of these being connected through GSM networks. Whilst the proportionate growth rate declined very marginally between March and April from 1.494% to 1.493%, these are the highest monthly rates that have been seen in the market since December 2004.
Of the 6.9m net additions, 5.27m were accounted for by China Mobile - 76.3% of the total, up from 75.2% in March. This was an improvement for the world's largest operator, but it should be noted that its share of the total in March 2007 was the lowest recorded since August 2005. That said, for the last two and a half years, China Mobile's share of net additions has been consistently ahead of its share of the total customer base, ensuring a continuous improvement in market share. The trends were no different in April 2007, China Mobile gaining another 0.1pp at China Unicom's expense, taking its total share to 68.1%.

On the other hand, Pakistan has already added 10 Million New Customers in 2007
Almost 2.8m new mobile customers joined the ranks in Pakistan in the month of April - the second highest total ever recorded in the market, behind October 2006. Monthly proportionate growth stayed above 5% by a whisker, after 5.1% in March, taking the total customer base in the market to 58.4m and penetration to 34.7% from 33.0% a month earlier. A total of 10.0m new customers were added in the first four months of 2007, these being shared almost equally between the market's four largest operators.
Telenor garnered the biggest portion, with 3m or 30% of the total, ahead of Mobilink (27%), Ufone (25%) and Warid Telecom (21%).

Despite its overall lead in terms of net additions so far this year, Telenor slipped back in April, recording the lowest number of net additions of the big four. Close competitor Warid Telecom itself recorded a market-best 8.5% increase in customer numbers in April, meaning that it overtook Telenor again for third spot in the market, having lost this position for a brief while in March. In absolute terms Pakistan Telecom's Ufone was the best performer in April, adding 0.89m customers, or 32% of the monthly total. The net result was a gain of 0.5pp of market share for Ufone, 0.4pp for Warid and 0.2pp for Telenor, whilst market leader Mobilink gave up a further 1.1pp reducing its overall share to 43.2%.
Mobilink did break the 25m customer barrier during the month, however, becoming only the 11th Asian mobile company to do so, after China Mobile, China Unicom, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Telkomsel, Bharti, Reliance, BSNL, Hutch and PLDT.

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