27 Apr 2010 13:35

PHS subscriber base slides to 40.47 mln - MIIT

Shanghai. April 27. INTERFAX-CHINA - The soon-to-be discontinued Xiaolingtong Personal Handy-phone System (PHS) has shed 5.51 million subscribers in the first quarter of 2010, dropping the total number of subscribers to 40.47 million, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced on April 27.

According to MIIT figures, the company's lost subscribers accounted for 13.1 percent of its total fixed-line subscribers.

Interfax reported on Feb. 3, 2009 that MIIT would phase out PHS services by 2011 to free up bandwidth for the TD-SCDMA network.

A China Unicom employee told the Guangzhou Daily that the loss of the Xiaolingtong base, which is an extremely low-end segment of Chinese mobile users, will not have a substantial impact on the operator's performance.

Interfax reported on Feb. 27, 2009 that consumers demanded a public hearing against the MIIT's decision to terminate the service.

"Even if consumers are designated as 'low-end,' they should still be provided with a comparable choice, as well as be compensated in some way for the elimination of the network," Chen Yongdong, an associate professor of new media studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy told Interfax.

PHS services became available in China in 1997, and attracted users by offering extremely low fees. PHS is essentially a cordless telephone with a range that typically measures in tens or at most hundreds of meters. There were some 93 million PHS users at the peak of operations in October 2006.