Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on February 20, 2007
By now just about everybody who cares knows that China is the world’s biggest cellular market. Every once and a while, it’s useful to step back and think about just how big China really is. And what better time than now, when the whole country is shut down for a week’s worth of Chinese New Year celebrations (and there’s very little news to blog about)? So, consider this number: 14 billion. According to the China Daily, that’s how many text messages China’s two cellular operators, China Mobile and China Unicom, are expecting to send over the long holiday. That’s also an 11% increase over last year, when Chinese sent 12.6 billion SMS. In 2005, Chinese sent 304.6 billion text messages, one third of all SMS worldwide.How much has China changed? Consider that in 2001 China’s operators only sent 18 billion SMS for the whole year. Now, with 460 million Chinese using cell phones, the two companies have to figure out how to handle close to that number in just one week.
This obviously puts a gigantic strain on the country’s telecom infrastructure. And it might give the Chinese an edge when their companies compete overseas. For instance, I’ve interviewed executives at Huawei Technologies, China’s top producer of routers and other telecom equipment and one of the biggest rivals that Cisco Systems faces worldwide, who have argued that Huawei’s ability to provide equipment that can handle the unprecedented strain of Chinese New Year SMS volume is a good indicator of how advanced the company has become. And it’s not getting any easier: By the end of the year, China’s Ministry of Information Industry expects the total cell phone population to increase 60 million to hit 520 million.