China Mobile's profits jump 37%

China Mobile, the country's biggest mobile carrier, said its first quarter profits surged. China Telecom, the country's main fixed line carrier, reported flat earnings. This reflects a shift in consumer tastes, an Associated Press report said.

Consumers in China increasingly view fixed line services as impractical, opting instead to use only mobile phones, the report said.

China has the world's biggest population of mobile users, with some 520 million accounts, and the government says that number will reach 600 million soon.

China Mobile said profits for the three months ending 31 March rose 37.2% over the same period of 2007, to 24.1 billion yuan (€2.16 billion). It said the number of subscribers rose 6% to 392 million.

China Telecom said its earnings edged up 0.5% from the same quarter a year earlier to 6.2 billion yuan (€79 million), but the number of accounts fell by 3.2 million, to 217.2 million.

China Mobile said the rate at which it signs up new accounts accelerated by 33% to 7.6 million per month in the quarter, driven mostly by new business in rural China. With many of the more prosperous eastern Chinese cities saturated, rural areas are the new target.