UTStarcom today announced that Personal Access System (PAS) users in China can now send Short Message Service (SMS) messages to each other, regardless of whether they signed up for PAS service with China Telecom or China Netcom.
Under the terms of the interoperability agreement signed by China's two fixed-line operators, China Telecom and China Netcom, PAS subscribers can now send SMS messages to PAS users on either operator's networks. Previously, users could only send messages to other subscribers on the same service provider's system.
SMS is an integral value-added service for the China market as approximately 33% of the total global short messaging volume comes from China. According to the China Daily, more than 240 billion SMS messages were sent in China in 2003, representing approximately $2.4 billion in revenue for operators and an increase of 170% in messages sent from 2002.
Approximately 33.2 million people currently subscribe for PAS service in China on UTStarcom-powered networks. Despite a slowdown on spending on new network construction as operators expand and optimize existing systems, PAS subscriber growth in China continues to be strong with expectations that the service will reach the 100-million-subscriber milestone at the end of 2005. Eight cities in China have recently surpassed the one-million-subscriber mark, including Beijing. Beijing's approximately one million PAS subscribers currently account for approximately 10-15% of the city's mobile market share.