Investment by mainland telecommunications network operators so far this year had exceeded last year's total because of the deployment of the 3G mobile system, said ZTE Corp, a leading vendor of network gear. Ma Youli, a vice-president at ZTE, said state-owned operators China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom Corp had substantially boosted network investment since Beijing issued 3G licences in January. The increased investment is 'mainly due to the roll-out of new 3G networks, such as Unicom's deployment of a network covering more than 300 cities this year', Mr Ma said. He said China Telecom had opened the tender for the second phase of its CDMA network, which could extend its coverage to more than 500 cities. Beijing estimates the operators will spend more than 300 billion yuan (HK$340 billion) on 3G deployment. Unicom had previously said it would spend 100 billion yuan on network infrastructure alone this year, while China Telecom plans to spend 80 billion yuan over three years. ZTE has introduced a new customer data management system that will allow the operators to track information about their clients. It will co-operate with Vietnam's VinaPhone to help build the world's largest next-generation home location register commercial network, with a capacity of 60 million lines. The system will support VinaPhone's 3G network service and is the largest contract for the product, which was launched a year ago. ZTE said the home location register would help operators have a better subscriber database. 'With the deployment of the home location register, mobile operators can track users' habits, and operators can offer relevant services to them to drive sales,' said Mr Ma. China Mobile, Unicom, China Telecom and Hong Kong mobile operator CSL use ZTE's next-generation home location register products. International Data Corp said current players in next-generation home location register solutions include ZTE, Blueslice, Hewlett-Packard, Nokia Siemens Networks and Xeround. 'We are in talks with potential customers, and I believe this product will achieve significant growth in the near future,' said Mr Ma. ZTE shares closed the session 4.58 per cent higher at HK$28.55 yesterday.