Mon, 11 Feb 2013 07:53:24 GMT

Beijing residents sent 831 million SMS for New Year

Beijing, Feb 11 (PTI) On the first day of the Lunar New Year, Beijing residents sent 831 million SMS from their mobile phones to wish friends and relatives rather than visiting in person, showing a decline in family relations in China.

In the Chinese capital city alone residents sent 831 million SMS for New Year, according to the Beijing branch of China Mobile, the country''s biggest telecom operator.

China Unicom Beijing also recorded a peak volume of 8,000 text messages per second around 7:45 pm on first night of the new year on Saturday, according to a report in China Unicom Beijing.

While telecom operators have minted money, industry insiders believe that the heyday for the short message service (SMS) may have passed.

"Chinese sent 897 billion SMS messages in 2012, up only 2.1 per cent year on year, whereas the number of mobile users gained about 11 per cent to 1.1 billion", said a report from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in January.

Meanwhile, China now has 564 million netizens, about 75 per cent of whom can access the Internet from their cell phones, according to the MIIT report.

According to Dong Wenjun, Sina Weibo''s director of operations, Weibo users sent a total of 28,977 posts in the first second of February 10, the day of the Chinese New Year.

"Saying happy new year on Weibo has become a good custom," Dong was quoted as saying by China National Radio.

Weixin, a popular smartphone application that allows voice messages and more creatively edited greetings, also became popular this year among the country''s 233 million 3G users due to its convenience and low cost, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

More young Chinese are nowadays working and settling down in cities far from home. Beijing had 7.7 million migrant residents as of the end of 2012, and many of them are the only children in their families.

"It is perhaps necessary for young people to cherish family ties, for they will have fewer and fewer relatives as time passes. Loneliness is harder to deal with than the bustle," said, Zhong Xin, a professor of communications at Renmin University.

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