Beijing--How many new cell phone accounts are opened daily in China? If you guessed 200,000, you'd be right, according to Ted Dean, managing director of BDA Limited, an analyst firm that tracks Asian markets. Put another way, that's like nearly every person in Reno, Nevada, opening a new cell phone account every day.
Overall, there are 500 million active cell accounts in China, and the number will grow to around 784 million by 2011, according to BDA. The firm predicts that 239 million people will access the Internet by cell phone in 2011.
"It has begun to spread to rural China," Dean added, with around 63 percent of China Mobile's new customers coming from rural areas. When Dean first moved to China in 1994, there were 200,000 subscribers total in the country.
The numbers, he adds, are based on sim cards, and some people have more than one. Beijing citizens who visit Shanghai quite a bit, for instance, might have a card for each city to avoid roaming charges. BlackBerry owners often base their accounts in Hong Kong because that's where the service is available.
In cities, a mainstream phone might cost $40 to $60 and monthly service can be $5 to $10 a month, he said. Carriers, equipment makers and handset makers continually work to bring that down.
"You need to be pretty focused on price if you are building infrastructure for a village," Dean added.