China’s three state owned telecom operators have announced their subscriber totals for the month of December and for all of 2023. China’ Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said the big three had a combined net increase of approximately 24.82M 5G package subscribers in China, boosting their combined 5G package subscriber base to nearly 1.373B.
As of the end of December, 5G package subscribers accounted for 80.2% and 78.1% of China Mobile’s and China Telecom’s total mobile subscriber bases, respectively.
C114.net reported that 3.377 million 5G base stations have been built, constituting 28.5 percent of the total mobile base stations. There are 23.02 million ports with gigabit network service capabilities. More than 80% of administrative villages nationwide now have 5G connectivity, telecoms portal.
The foundation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is constantly being consolidated, with mobile IoT terminal users accounting for 57.5% of the total number of mobile network terminal connections. Technological industry innovation and development, the commercial deployment of 5G customized base stations and 5G lightweight technology, and the launch of the world’s first satellite communication smartphone, 6G, quantum communication, artificial intelligence and other innovative capabilities have significantly improved.
- China Mobile ended last year with 794.5 million subscribers to its 5G package (contract), while its total mobile subscriber base reached 991 million.
- China Telecom had a total of 407.7 million mobile users, of which 318.66 million had signed up to a 5G package (up by 50.7 million during 2023).
- China Unicom’s 5G package subscriber total hit 259.6 million by the end of last year, though disclosure on total mobile subscribers has not been provided. China Unicom also reported that there were 8,563 “virtual 5G industry private network” subscriber for the month of December which was an increase of 554 month-on-month and up 4,758 since the end of 2022.
Mobile Subscriber Stats for China’s Three Main Carriers (Unit: Millions)
|% of Combined
Installed 5G Sub Base
|Net Change Since
|5G Package Subs
|5G Package Subs
|5G Package Subs
China’s fourth 5G telecom network operator, China Broadnet, saw its 5G user base surpass 20 mln on October 19, the company revealed at the 2023 World 5G Convention held in Zhengzhou from December 5-7. Since that time, however, China Broadnet has not publicly released any updated 5G subscriber statistics.
Broadnet officially launched 5G network services just 19 months ago, on June 27, 2022. Because Broadnet is not yet reporting its 5G subscriber totals on a regular, monthly basis, Marbridge is not yet integrating its totals with those of China’s three more established telecom operators above.
The Chinese telecom operators specifically report numbers for 5G packages, rather than citing 5G service users or connections, as while customers may have signed up for a 5G service package offer, that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a 5G-enabled device that enables them to hook up to their network operator’s 5G network, or indeed that their service provider is offering 5G services in their area just yet.
In addition to the growing 5G market in China, the fixed broadband segment is also very large. China Mobile had a total of 298 million wireline broadband customers at the end of December 2023, and throughout the year it added a total of 26 million fixed customers. China Telecom had 190 million fixed broadband subscribers by the year end, having added a total of 9.26 million wireline broadband users in 2023. China Unicom’s operational statistics for the last month of 2023 did not provide a breakdown of broadband customers.