China Telecom: NB-IoT Users Exceed 100 Million -World’s Largest Number of 5G NB-IoT

China Telecom reached a new milestone as its 5G narrow-band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) [1.]user base grew to more than 100 million. This is the largest number of 5G NB-IoT connections the industry has ever acquired, making China Telecom the world’s largest carrier for NB-IoT and the world’s first carrier to have developed such a large user base. News of this achievement came during the 2021 World Telecommunication & Information Society Day (WTISD) commemoration on May 17, in which e-Surfing Internet of Things Technology (e-Surfing IoT) released the latest 5G IoT achievements on behalf of China Telecom.

Note 1. NB-IoT is a narrow band radio access technology designed for the IoT, allowing connections between IoT devices that is faster and on a wider range. The connection is for devices requiring small amounts of data, over long periods and consumes less energy.


In July 2020, NB-IoT was officially endorsed as one of the global 5G standard technologies by ITU-R IMT 2020, paving the way for it to become an important part of 5G’s three major use cases.

A recent forecast by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) concludes that medium- and low-speed IoT connections will account for 90% of the total IoT connectivity by the end of 2025.

China Telecom was one of the world’s first carriers to start NB-IoT deployment, launching its services as early as 2017. After five years of extensive development, China Telecom has made breakthroughs in network coverage, user scale, platform services, chip modules, and industrial applications, demonstrating the role that NB-IoT has to play in forming the foundation for the digital economy.

China Telecom has built the world’s first and largest commercial NB-IoT network that delivers continuous coverage. With more than 400,000 NB-IoT base stations, users can leverage the most suitable spectrum resources, facilitating continuous network upgrades, network tests and service provisioning based on NB-IoT Release 14. Multi-carrier capacity expansion is also supported, adding extra flexibility to fulfil requirements for higher rate and larger capacity.

China Telecom has seen its IoT services used to support smart firefighting, security surveillance, urban facility management, smart homes, passenger car, charging device management, and smart appliances, with the total number of connections exceeding 100 million. It is the first time a carrier has acquired more than 100 million 5G NB-IoT users worldwide, making it an industry trailblazer. The company also leads in industry-specific use cases, with NB-IoT smart gas and water users numbering almost 30 million, making it the world’s largest provider of NB-IoT smart water and gas meter services.

China Telecom has deployed the industry’s first remote all-active NB-IoT device service platform to more than 100 million IoT devices with a 99% success rate of NB device data reporting. Its IoT Openness Platform, now in its fifth version — CTWing 5.0, offers a plethora of enhancements in smart congestion scheduling, remote upgrades, base station positioning, low power consumption, and quasi-real-time services. This means users benefit from massive-connectivity and low-power access, reducing overall terminal R&D costs while shortening R&D periods and improving NB-IoT experiences. The number of IoT device connections on the CTWing platform has exceeded 60 million, with an average of nearly 20 billion calls per month.

China Telecom has launched the industry’s first batch of NB-IoT chip modules which offer improved module performance, production efficiency, and reliability at reduced development costs, making them a powerful enabler of digital transformation.

China Telecom has also expanded NB-IoT applications to many other fields, from COVID-19 prevention and control to social governance, people’s livelihood, smart appliances, smart city, and smart agriculture, in the goal of evolving the “Internet of Everything” to evolve to “the Intelligent Internet of Everything.” 

According to e-Surfing IoT, China Telecom’s NB-IoT technology has been applied in various industries, becoming a powerful enabler of industry digitalization and digital industrialization as part of the digital China vision.

To help contain the spread of COVID-19, China Telecom developed a smart door sensor, which has been adopted in several provinces across China, such as Heilongjiang, Guangdong, and Yunnan.

When it comes to social governance, China Telecom provides an array of smart community applications, such as NB-IoT smart smoke detectors, door status sensors, gas alarms, and manhole covers. These solutions improve the efficiency of community governance and property management while also encouraging the modernization of community governance systems, helping to support the digital economy.

In terms of people’s livelihood, China Telecom has rolled out tens of millions of NB-IoT smart water and gas meters. These meters enable automatic readings and alert solitary elderly to safety risks. China Telecom has also partnered with Goldcard Smart Group to turn Guangzhou into the world’s first city with over one million IoT gas meters.

China Telecom’s NB-IoT smart gas meters are now used by users reaching nearly 30 million people

As for smart home appliances, China Telecom and Haier Group have built the world’s first NB-IoT self-cleaning air conditioner, closing the gap of shared air conditioners for smart campuses and creating a new appliance consumption model for the sharing economy. China Telecom is also working with several home appliance giants in China to build a shared air conditioner leasing solution based on the NB-IoT technology, which is set to provide intelligent services for college students. These shared NB-IoT air conditioners have already been deployed in hundreds of colleges and universities in China.

China Telecom has helped build the country’s first city-level IoT platform in Xiong’an, a new national district in China. This platform is now the foundation for the city to build a digital replica.

In the smart agriculture, China Telecom is providing NB-IoT water quality monitoring services for an orchard town in Hunan Province. This helps to monitor water quality in real-time and implement intelligent agricultural breeding. Additionally, China Telecom’s NB-IoT technology is being used to enable smart cow services for a ranch in Xinjiang autonomous region.

With CTWing, its IoT Openness Platform, e-Surfing IoT will continue to advance the maturity of the IoT ecosystem, promote the scaled implementation of IoT applications, and enable digital industrialization and industry digitalization for the digital economy.

China Telecom media contact:    [email protected]

2 thoughts on “China Telecom: NB-IoT Users Exceed 100 Million -World’s Largest Number of 5G NB-IoT

  1. China Telecom said on Wednesday the demand for the NB-IoT in China now accounts for more than 60 percent of the whole internet of things sector.

    China Telecom said in a statement that it carried out outdoor NB-IoT tests in 12 cities in the first quarter. In March, it announced the release of the world’s first commercial NB-IoT technology-based smart water project, in partnership with Shenzhen Water, marking a significant step in promoting the commercial use of the NB-IoT.

    The telecom carrier said it has joined hands with Shenzhen Gas to promote its application in the gas industry.

    Moreover, China’s bicycle-sharing startup ofo is working with China Telecom and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in a joint research on implementing its solutions for smart bicycle locks.

    On Monday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced it wanted to speed up the commercial use of the NB-IoT in China. The ministry said it was encouraging companies to promote the technical reform of broadband network infrastructure to facilitate its commercial use. The China ministry said the technology could be applied to the industrial internet, urban public service and management.

  2. Is it a joke by converting the existing NB-IoT into 5G NB-IoT? Then like magic words (presto, abrakadabra, alacazam, etc) 100 millions of existing NB-IoT devices were suddenly connected to 5G networks.

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