China Telecom is the largest fixed service telecommunications provider in the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China. The company provides approximately 62% of Chinaâ€™s internet bandwidth. China Telecom has a subscriber base of over 200 million people and provides voice, data, image, multimedia and telecommunications and information services in twenty municipalities, provinces and autonomous regions in China. China Telecom shares are listed on both the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong and the New York Stock Exchange.
In 2002 China became the largest telecommunications market in the world. Five years ago only one in ten Chinese had a phone. Today, more than one in three have a fixed telephone subscription and over 1.25 million people sign up to mobile phone contracts every week. However, since China entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001 the telecommunications industry has been slowly opening itself to competition from abroad.
Before 1994 the Chinese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MIT) provided telecom services through China Telecom. However, under pressure from other ministries and dissatisfied customers the MIT began telecommunication reforms in 1994 and introduced new competitors to the market such as China Unicom. However, China Unicom was unable to compete with the sheer size of China Telecom. In 1998 China Mobile and China Satcom were created to run the mobile phone and satellite sectors. However, China Telecom still had a monopoly on fixed-line services. In 2002 the second wave of restructuring of China Telecom divided the company geographically. In the north China Netcom was formed and was given 30% of the network resources. In the south the company retained the name China Telecom and kept 70% of the network resources.
China telecom is currently ranked by Forbes as the fifth largest company in China when taking into account equally sales, profits, assets and market value. As of the end of the last fiscal year (2006-2007) China Telecom had sales of US$ 21.0 billion, profits of US$ 3.5 billion, assets amounting to US$ 50.3 billion and a market value of US$ 25.3 billion.