China Mobile has 114M “5G Package” subscribers vs 204M broadband wireline customers

China Mobile announced yesterday that it had approximately 946 million mobile customers as at 30 September 2020, which was down about 1 million from the previous quarter.  There were 770 million 4G customers and 114 million 5G package customers. The latter number is a 44 million increase in the past three months. However, the growth in 5G subscribers is not quite what it seems. Like China Telecom, China Mobile uses the term “5G package customers,” which counts 4G customers on 5G plans. [The 3rd state owned China telco – China Unicom – does not yet give a breakout of 5G subs from its mobile subscriber base.] The 4G subscriber base, reflecting some migration to 5G package plans, shrank by 10 million during Q3-2020.

During the first three quarters of the year, China Mobile handset data traffic increased by 35.0% year-on-year to 65.3 billion GB with handset data DOU reaching 9.1GB. Total voice usage dropped by 7.1% year-on-year to 2,258.0 billion minutes, showing a further reduced rate of decline. Total SMS usage rose by 15.5% year-on-year to 713.0 billion messages and maintained favourable growth. Mobile ARPU continued to demonstrate a flattened rate of decline, dropping by 2.6% year-on-year to RMB48.9 for the first three quarters of the year.

As of 30 September 2020, China Mobile’s total number of  broadband wireline customers was 204 million, with a net increase of 17.17 million for the first three quarters of the year. Wireline broadband ARPU amounted to RMB32.4.

Slight of hand: China Mobile's growth in subs includes 4G customers on 5G plans.

Image Credit: China Mobile

China Mobile said it will “continue to put in an all-out effort to implement the “5G+” plan, further promote scale-based and value-oriented operations and foster the all-round development of CHBN markets, thereby maintaining growth in telecommunications services revenue for the full-year of 2020.”  The Group acknowledged the increasing cost associated with 5G operations and maintenance, but did not elaborate on what those costs were:

Facing the challenges resulting from increasing costs incurred by 5G operations and maintenance and business transformation, the Group will allocate resources by adhering to the principle of ensuring a sufficient budget for areas essential to promote growth, while reducing and controlling expenses on certain selected areas. In addition, it will take further measures to reduce costs and enhance efficiency, alongside efforts to maintain good profitability. The Group will maintain stable profit attributable to equity shareholders for the full-year of 2020, continuously creating value for investors.

Ericsson, which previously received a $593 million 5G contract with China Mobile for base stations wrote in an email to Light Reading: “”We have been riding on the investments in China and there are likely to be more than 500,000 base stations by the end of the year in China launched on 5G and of course we are quite pleased to participate in that rather fundamental and quite strong rollout.”

Market research firm Dell’Oro forecasts that China’s 5G rollout will drive an 8% increase in worldwide sales of radio access network products this year. Excluding China, it forecasts no growth in the RAN infrastructure market. Additional highlights from Dell’Oro’s 2Q2020 RAN report:

  • 5G NR radio shipments accelerated 5x to 6x during 1H20, driven by robust growth in China.
  • Millimeter Wave 5G NR deployments continued to advance rapidly, with revenues growing nearly four-fold.
  • Initial estimates suggest that vendor rankings remained stable between 2019 and 1H20, while revenue shares changed somewhat as the Chinese suppliers reached new revenue share highs.
  • Near-term RAN forecast has been adjusted upward, to reflect the faster-than-expected growth in China.

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References:

https://www.chinamobileltd.com/en/file/view.php?id=237832

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/china-mobile-5g-subs-top-114m-in-q3/d/d-id/764778?

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/ericsson-rides-high-on-china-5g-boom/d/d-id/764770?

Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

RAN Market Growth Accelerated in 1H20, According to Dell’Oro Group

3 thoughts on “China Mobile has 114M “5G Package” subscribers vs 204M broadband wireline customers

  1. It is quite interesting that China Mobile and China Telecom used the term “5G package customers,” which counts 4G customers on 5G plans. It was widely known for a long time in China, that “the 5G emperor has no clothes.” Even so, I could not believe the statistical data China Mobile declared in their earnings report.

    Let’s do some fact checking on Communist China controlled 5G:

    1. The world already knows communists are liars. They have lied for 100 years (plus/minus), from the Soviet Union, Cuba, North Korea, to China. We knew they were liars; they knew themselves they lied, and they knew we knew they were liars. However, they kept lying without shame.
    2. Communist China, through the state owned wireless network providers, has promoted a “fake, dumb and poor 5G” for many years. So does the term “5G package customers” with 4G devices. The three major telecom operators in China (China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom) all lowered 4G LTE speed since last year, forcing many 4G device end users to subscribe to the “5G package” to maintain high-speed access. So they offer the 5G package with 4G devices and count those users as 5G subscribers. Despite that deception, they brag worldwide about the China 5G story. Reference: https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/10/15/huawei-executive-chinas-5g-user-experience-is-fake-dumb-and-poor-is-it-a-con-game/
    3. China’s 5G base stations and handsets use different frequencies, depending on the network operator. China Mobile uses 2.515 – 2.675 GHz and 4.8 – 4.9 GHz; China Telecom uses 3.4 – 3.5 GHz; and China Unicom uses 3.5 – 3.6 GHz. Those same frequencies are also used for 4G-LTE. There is no 5G mmWave yet, as those frequencies haven’t been auctioned. Reference: https://www.everythingrf.com/community/5g-frequency-spectrum-in-china
    4. Another major bottleneck of 5G handsets is battery life and time duration between recharges. Due to high radio energy consumption, 5G handsets standby time will be reduced significantly. I have not seen the iPhone 12 standby time and if there is any evolution of its battery recharge time.
    5. It’s widely known that 5G base stations consume a huge amount of power and waste energy. The three major China network operators shut down deployed 5G base stations at night to save energy bills. It was said if 5G base stations are covered nationwide, say, 480 million base stations are required, the electricity bill is equivalent to several hundred times the annual profit of China Unicom! The former minister of the Ministry of Finance of China, Lou Ji Wei and the seated deputy minister of the MIIT of China, Liu Lei Hong, both admitted the energy consumption is a huge issue for 5G networks.
    6. URLLC and mMTC 5G use cases are not supported. That’s due to no 5G standards or specs (e.g. IMT 2020, 3GPP Release 16 “URLLC in the RAN”) available that meet the associated ITU M.2410 performance requirements for those 5G use cases.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    Last week (October 15, 2020) China’s Academician Wu Hequan gave a speech at the China International Information and Communication Exhibition (IMT-2020 Shanghai). Mr. Wu revealed several key points that corroborate the above fact checking:

    1) China’s 5G is immature after deploying the 5G networks for one year. The challenges China faces in 5G development are more severe than network operators of previous generations faced. Especially, in the increasing uncertainty due to the international pandemic, 5G needs to move forward with long-term burdens. Operators are under tremendous pressure to obtain a meaningful return on their 5G investments. They need to advance the deployment of 5G networks moderately and steadily to advance and cultivate the ecology, while forming a benign model of building and promoting usage.
    2) 5G base stations have a higher energy consumption compared with 4G. So, there is a need to intelligently shut down 5G base stations in non-peak time in order to save energy.
    3) 5G investment will be 50% higher that 4G (does anyone really believe that?).
    4) Even 5G market leader South Korea 5G has not deployed use cases 5G super HD TV, VR/AR, indoor locations, V2X, etc. That implies China’s 5G surely will not deploy those 5G use cases anytime soon.
    5) 5G reliability will be greater than six 9s (99.9999%) and latency will be 0.4ms for air interface, 4ms for use cases. (What a joke. Come on!! A con game again.)
    6) 5G handsets are expensive and there is less variety than 4G devices. Much worse, 5G silicon is controlled by outsiders.
    7) 5G regulations are still missing, even though they are critical to 5G use cases.

  2. China never said it’s 5G deployments slowed down because of the international pandemic (which originated from China). It is too sensitive for the Chinese communists to say that. But they blame the U.S. for sanctions on Huawei that prevent that company from importing semiconductors used in their consumer products and telecom equipment, including chips made by TSMC, Samsung, SK Hynix and others.
    I can predict one day in the near future, China communists will say they didn’t build useful 5G networks because of the U.S. (Trump administration).

  3. Light Reading: 5G still a technology looking for a purpose

    18 months into the commercial deployment of 5G, the returns are paltry.

    The two big South Korean operators, SKT and KT, have if anything gone backwards. The latest filings reveal all the key financial data are flat or declining. Likewise the Chinese telcos.

    Unlike early 3G or 4G, we can’t blame this on devices. China has around 100 different handsets available with some of the price bundles costing as little as 100 yuan ($15.11).

    China has raced to around 200 million 5G “package” subscribers, which, even though it overstates the real total, points to how smoothly 5G deployment has gone compared with previous generations.

    Yet for all that, it’s still a technology looking for a purpose. No wonder Chinese operators are selling it on price.

    The non-progress of 5G is attracting some desperate commentary in China, where it’s seen as a matter of national pride, not to mention some $30 billion in sunk costs.

    So far, 5G just hasn’t created any excitement. There are no game-changing new apps or devices. They will come eventually, just as the iPhone arrived to drive traffic onto 3G networks.

    https://www.lightreading.com/asia/5g-still-technology-looking-for-purpose/d/d-id/765341?

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