China's largest mobile phone network now has more customers than the entire population of the US.

Sometimes it's easy to forget just how big China is and how quickly it's growing, so the latest mobile phone subscriber numbers are a useful aide memoire. The single largest network there, China Mobile , announced recently that it has a staggering 301.2 million customers - by way of comparison, the entire population of the US was actually 300,000 fewer at the last count.

The rest of the data posted on the China Mobile website is equally impressive. Last year the company added 53 million new subscribers, with almost five million signing up in December alone.

It should also be noted that the vast majority (78 per cent) of China Mobile's users are on pre-paid plans, rather than a post-pay contract. This is largely a factor of the type of new customers signing up for mobile phones in China. While newfound prosperity allows many Chinese to own a phone now, most are still unable to secure the credit required for monthly billing. J. Mark Lytle