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China has made an incredibly quick switch from 3G to 4G

Two-and-a-half years after China’s 4G mobile networks first switched on, the nation now has 562 million 4G subscribers across its three main telcos.

That’s out of a total of 1.3 billion mobile SIM subscribers, according to the latest data from the three carriers – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom. The number is so high as some individuals have more than one number.The whole of North America had 219 million 4G subs at the last count.

China’s switch from 3G to 4G was relatively swift as most adults already owned a smartphone. All the telcos had to do was offer some incentive for people to change to the faster phone service. Monthly 4G plans being a bit cheaper than 3G ones seems to have done the trick.

China Mobile is the only telco to report how many 3G subscribers it has separate from its 4G signups. Those numbers give us a clear picture of the rapid flip. For that particular telco, the changeover happened between July and August last year. You’ll also notice that China Mobile is having much more luck with 4G than it did with its 3G. That’s because China’s government forced the nation’s top telco to use the peculiar TD-SCDMA 3G system, which no other place in the world used, resulting in a poor choice of phones available to consumers.

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