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China Telecom to Buy 4 Mln 3G Phones

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China Telecom has placed a 4-million 3G handset order with dozens of domestic mobile phone makers, the biggest such order ever in China, reported Tuesday's China Daily.

The multi-billion yuan order, which includes 63 different customized models, will greatly expand China Telecom's 3G handset portfolios and is expected to help it attract more users, the newspaper said.

The 4-million customized handsets China Telecom ordered, bigger than its original plan of 3.6 million, are mostly priced in the 1,000 yuan (US$142.9) range and some are priced as low as 500 yuan per handset, a pricing that analysts say will make it more competitive and affordable to more customers.

The lack of 3G-capable handsets has been hindering the growth of the 3G services in the country, according to the newspaper.

China Telecom's move comes as China Mobile, its larger competitor, is also stepping up efforts to make more 3G handsets available in the market.

China Mobile, the country's largest telecom operator, planned to work with smart phone maker HTC to launch at least one model, which will be called the "O phone", in China this year and at least five models in 2010.

China Telecom, which operates CDMA standard 3G services, posted a net gain of 2.45 million mobile subscribers in July, the biggest increase so far this year and the seventh consecutive positive growth month.

China Mobile said its subscriber numbers fell to 466,000 in July over June. China Unicom, the second largest telecom operator, said mobile subscribers increased by 680,000 in July, down 182,000 from the previous month.

China Telecom has sold nearly 100,000 units of 3G phones in the first five months of this year, the largest shipment among the three telecom operators and accounting for 55 percent of all the 3G phones sold in the country at the same time, according to Sino Market Research.

(Xinhua News Agency August 25, 2009)