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Chinese New Year breaks SMS records

Jane Wang | March 9, 2010
The Chinese New Year is often a record-breaking season for telecommunications, and this year was no exception.

The Chinese New Year is often a record-breaking season for telecommunications, and this year was no exception. SMS once again proved its resilience as a source of data-related revenues.

SMS again broke messaging and revenue records over the 2010 Chinese New Year. According to estimates from the three major telecoms operators, from New Years Eve to the end of the holiday period more than 18 billion messages were sent, generating revenues of approximately Rmb1.8 billion (US$267 million), assuming Rmb0.1 per message. This doesnt include the roaming fees charged for text messages sent between provinces. It is also reported that on New Year's Eve in Beijing and Shanghai SMS traffic reached 700 million messages for each city 17 per cent growth compared to last year. China currently has 745 million mobile phone subscribers, and the average user sent 24 text messages during the seven-day holiday.

MMS and mobile video greetings take off, but are still not mainstream

The Chinese operators have been promoting MMS for several years without seeing much impact. However, as high-end handset prices and messaging tariffs decreased sharply in 2009 due to the fierce competition, MMS traffic began to grow quickly. During the Chinese New Year, 6.58 million MMS messages were sent six times more than last year.

China Mobile has also been promoting its TD-SCDMA videophone. China Mobile claims that its mobile video traffic was 3.4 times normal over the New Year period. However, we believe that the limited availability of suitable TD-SCDMA handsets and the limited capacity of the TD-SCDMA network at this time will prevent TD-SCDMA video services from becoming mainstream in short term.

SMS censorship suspended

It was estimated that mobile phone subscribers received about ten spam messages every week during 2008, and public complaints about spam and indecent messages peaked in mid-2009. As a result, the Chinese government promoted an SMS content censorship policy. Operators were assigned by MIIT to carry out censorship of SMS messages. An agreement among the countrys three main mobile network operators last June stipulates that if the number of messages sent from a phone number reaches 200 within an hour or 1,000 within a day then the phones messaging service will be suspended for a week. Operators also have the right to censor the content of short messages.

But its impossible to please everyone all of the time. This activity was opposed by mobile users concerned that their personal information security was being compromised and unhappy that the operators could read their SMS messages and decide which were junk and which were not.

However, it appears from the media reports that these constraints were lifted during the Chinese New Year. We believe this was a consequence of the sheer number of messages sent, which made the monitoring of content even more difficult than usual. This suggests that procedures for SMS content control are still primitive and in development.

 

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