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China Mobile: World's Largest Mobile Carrier

China Mobile is now the worlds largest mobile phone operator, with more than 296 million subscribers, according to the latest market study by Pyramid Research.

It recently inked a deal with Ericsson to expand GSM coverage in 19 regions of China. Moreover, just last week it settled negotiations with China's ZTE Corp to build a high-speed wireless network, opening the door for 3G technologies.

The Chinese government has promised to issue licenses for CDMA2000 and WCDMA (the primary U.S. and European 3G mobile-phone standards) in addition to the local Chinese TD-SCDMA standard in time for the upcoming 2008 Beijing Olympics. Allowing the use of all three standards widens the range of competition.

Watching China Mobile firm up these latest deals is no surprise to the market. China Mobile has broken away from the pack in terms of Capex spending, and has been the leader since 2005. In a recently published report, the "Global Mobile Capex Index," Pyramid Research reports that China Mobile, at $11 billion in Capex -- or nearly 16 percent of the Index total -- spent 48 percent more than number two carrier, Vodafone.

China Mobile emerged as the leading spender within the Index in 2005, grabbing a 14.1 percent share of the Index with Capex that was 17 percent greater than AT&T Mobility's and 27 percent greater than Vodafone's.

After hurried growth in the overall Index over the past few years, Pyramid Research predicts that Capex will stabilize in 2007, growing approximately 2 percent to about $71 billion. They expect China Mobile to remain the leader, with a 17 percent increase from 2006 to nearly $13 billion, representing 18.2 percent of the Index.

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