China Mobile – the world’s largest operator by subscribers – will spend CNY70 billion (US$10.2 billion) on its rural network over the next three years, reports Dow Jones Newswires. The investment is a huge increase on expenditure on its rural network in the last five years, which totalled CNY19.5 billion. Most of the new expenditure will reportedly focus on China Mobile’s second-generation GSM network, rather than its latest 3G TD-SCDMA network.
Earlier this year China Mobile’s chairman, Wang Jianzhou, told Mobile Business Briefing that the company was confident of future growth in 2009, despite the global economic crisis, due to China’s rural opportunity. “Despite a relatively high mobile penetration rate in the cities, vast rural areas remain an important potential market for China Mobile,” he said. China Mobile is also looking to grow by keeping an eye out for acquisition opportunities abroad, in an effort to build on its sole overseas purchase to date; a 100 percent acquisition of Pakistan operator Paktel (now known as ‘Zong’) for US$460 million in 2007.