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Wireless Carriers and Calling Plans: China

Chinese Woman with Cell PhoneThe following list of wireless service providers (carriers, operators and resellers) operate in national or regional markets.

A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is a company that does not own or operate a wireless (mobile phone) network, but resells wireless services under their own brand name, using the network of a wireless network operator.

National size rankings are by number of mobile subscribers. National coverage might mean that 80% of the population area has service. Check with each service provider about specific areas of coverage and calling plans before you sign up.

All carriers operate an analog network (AMPS, TACS) in addition to any digital networks mentioned, unless noted. Although many carriers are retiring their analog networks and service.

Coverage maps show primary service areas, secondary service areas and/or roaming areas.

For more information about wireless carriers and calling plans, including guides, reviews and promotions, see our Wireless Carriers and Calling Plans main page.

Caveat About Coverage Maps

Coverage maps help you find areas where you can and can not get service. But most maps do not show dead zones (local places where your phone doesn't work) that affect your ability to use a cell phone service. The actual service you get may be different from the areas shown on the map.

Before buying a new service, and possibly being locked into a plan with poor coverage, ask for a trial period and check for dead zones along your regular routes.

Be sure to use the phone handset model you plan to buy, because the RF performance (radio frequency signal sensitivity) of a handset affects its dead zones and on-road (in motion) performance.

China

Company Overview
China Mobile #1 mobile provider. 70% market share. State-owned enterprise, formed from former monopoly China Telecom in 2000. GSM coverage map.
China Unicom #2 mobile provider. 20% market share. State-owned enterprise. Operates in 10 northern provinces. Acquired China Netcom in 2008.
China Telecom #3 mobile provider. 10% market share. State-owned enterprise. Operates in 21 southern provinces.

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