The number of mobile phone users in China is expected to reach 459 million by the end of the year, the Ministry of Information Industry has forecast.
Director of the telecommunications research centre of the ministry, Yang Zemin told a seminar that 48 million people are expected to acquire their first mobile phones in 2006.
Over the past several years, the number of mobile phone users has been growing at 50 million annually in China.
China now has more mobile phone users than fixed-line subscribers and the gap continues to widen.
Statistics show 830,000 fixed-line subscribers signed up in October, compared with nearly six million new mobile phone users. Nine provinces saw a reduction in the number of fixed-line users.
Yang said 40 to 50 per cent of Chinese people will upgrade their mobile phones in 2006 as cheaper and flashier models with new functions capture consumer's eyes.
China is expected to produce 340 million mobile phones in 2006, up 11 per cent from last year. Total exports of mobile phones will reach 250 million, up eight per cent.