Which company has the largest number of mobile phone subscribers?

Mobile phones bring agricultural advice to the Chinese farmer (photo by Praziquantel  CC-BY)

Mobile phones: bringing agricultural advice to the Chinese farmer (photo by Praziquantel CC-BY)

China Mobile Limited, also known as China Mobile or CMCC, has the world’s largest mobile network and largest mobile subscriber base.

For the last three years subscriber numbers have steadily increased: 301,232,000 in December 2006, 369,339,000 in December 2007 and 457,250,000 in December 2008. That’s an additional 87,911,000 subscribers for 2008.

China is the world’s largest mobile phone market with China Mobile currently holding 60% of the market share. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, 69.8% of households in China have a mobile phone, but rural areas are well below this number, although each administrative village now has at least one phone.

China Mobile is focusing its efforts to expand in this part of the market and target farmers. It reports that strong growth in the rural market accounted for nearly half of the subscriber growth last year.

The demand in the rural market is driven by the availability of services like the Agricultural Information Service Network set up by China Mobile for the rural farmers. It provides advice via mobile phone in Chinese, Tibetan, Mongol and Uygur on farming news, weather, and information to improve agricultural practices such as planting techniques, pest and disease protection advice, and how to sell farm produce at the best price.

China Mobile was incorporated in 1997 and was listed on the New York and Hong Kong stock exchanges in the same year. The company has 32 subsidiaries for each of the 31 provinces and Hong Kong.  The company employs 27,959 people (December 2007).

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