China Unicom lost 10 million mobile customers in five months: Report

Mobile network carrier China Unicom has struggled after failing to take advantage of its WCDMA licence during the 3G era, reports suggest.

As competitors continue to show strong growth, network carrier China Unicom, who used to have the upper hand in the 3G era, has lost nearly ten million subscribers during the last five months, reported Beijing Business Today on Tuesday.

While the country's biggest carrier China Mobile and newcomer China Telecom recording 861,000 and 760,000 new users respectively, China Unicom's decline in mobile network subscriptions continues. According to the report, the company lost 2.8 million, 1.6 million, 2.5 million, 1.9 million, and 1 million customers from February to June.

An industry expert told the newspaper that China Unicom should have been able to take advantage of it being granted the only internationally accepted 3G network standard in China, WCDMA, and catch up to industry leader China Mobile and its TD-SCDMA network.

But thanks to the banning of a series of low-cost data bundles, as well as the introduction of identity registration for new card buyers, and decreased marketing spending, the number of mobile network users started to gradually drop.

The report also said the company's current struggle could be contributed to the smaller user base and a comparatively slower growth rate during the 2G era. China Unicom's subscription were reported to have grown from 112 million in 2004 to 160 million in 2007, while over the same period, the increase for China Mobile was from 204 million to 360 million.

In an effort to regain market share, the company recently started crowdfunding campaigns for cheap network plans in rural areas of China, a market which was previously dominated by its biggest competitor.