Mobile World Live‘s Asia editor Joseph Waring provides a weekly update on developments in the world’s largest mobile market:

4th round of MVNO licences
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is about to announce a fourth round of MNVO licences, according to the news portal.

The government has issued mobile resale licences to a total of 25 companies since the beginning of the year.

In late August the MIIT gave another six firms licences to resell mobile services after it first granted licences to 19 private firms. The move is part of its efforts to restructure the industry to create more competition and innovation.

Wen Ku, director of the Development Department, said China Telecom is working with 26 firms while China Mobile is cooperating with 17 and China Unicom has deals with 25 resellers, reported.

China’s MVNO market, with some 400,000 connections, is in the early development stage, Wen said, adding that many aspects including business models and cooperation mechanisms have yet to be fully explored. As these develop, he sees a rapid growth period, the report said.

He noted that the MVNO licenses might be given to Hainan Airlines, Foxconn, Lenovo, Haier and Xiaomi, which Mobile World Live reported last month.

Unicom exec warns on subscriber growth
With an estimated 1.2 billion mobile connections and a population of 1.4 billion people, China’s mobile market is finally approaching saturation point.

GSMA Intelligence puts the country’s mobile penetration rate at 89 percent.

Vice director of China Unicom Research Institute Zhang Yunyong said at a recent conference that if you leave out old people, children and the poor, everyone in fact has a mobile phone, reported.

Unicom, along with China Telecom, has recently faced slow 4G subscriber growth. Many attributed this to their late start in rolling out 4G networks and to rival China Mobile’s head start. But many analysts now reckon the slowdown is due to the shrinking pool of those without mobile service as penetration nears 100 per cent.

Zhang said operators need to find new growth areas, such as cloud computing, the internet of things, smart homes, wearable devices and mobile payments, the portal reported.

Stronger demand for iPhone 6 Plus
Based on demand for analogue ICs from the two producers of Apple’s latest iPhone models, the iPhone 6 Plus is reportedly expected to account for 60 per cent of total device shipments.

DigiTimes reported that, according to industry sources, IC shipments were initially almost even to Foxconn Electronics, which makes the iPhone 6 Plus, and Pegatron Technology, which makes the iPhone 6. But Foxconn is now reportedly receiving more IC shipments.