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.
According to a January 21,2024 article in the South China Morning Post, Nokia is set to exit its joint venture with Huawei in the telecommunications sector due to US-China tensions. Nokia has found new buyers for its majority stake in a Beijing-based joint venture with Huawei Technologies, after a proposed deal fell through last year following strong protest by the Chinese partner. The article states that Nokia will sell its majority stake in TD Tech [1.] to a group that will be jointly controlled by Huawei and a group of entities that include the government-owned Chengdu High-Tech Investment Group and Chengdu Gaoxin Jicui Technology Co, as well as venture capital firm Huagai, according to a disclosure published on Friday by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR).
Huawei had a 14% share in the Chinese smartphone market in the third quarter 2023, putting it in fifth place behind its spin-off Honor and rivals Oppo, Vivo and Apple, data from market intelligence firm Counterpoint Research showed. According to Statista, Huawei had a 58% share of all 5G base stations in China as of the 3rd quarter 2023. Its closest competitor was ZTE with a market share of 31%. Nokia had only a 2% market share.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said that in the first eleven months of 2023, the telecommunication industry’s collective business revenue soared to 1.55 trillion yuan, approximately 218 billion U.S. dollars, marking a 6.9% year-on-year increase.
Emerging sectors such as big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have shown significant growth. China’s three state owned network providers, China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom have leveraged these technologies to catalyze a 20.1 percent surge in revenue from these areas, amounting to 332.6 billion yuan.
Cloud computing and big data have experienced explosive growth. Revenue from cloud computing surging by 39.7 percent and big data by 43.3 percent compared to the previous year. These figures underscore the central role of data-driven technologies in powering China’s telecom industry forward.
Broadband internet services continue to be a strong revenue stream for the three telecom giants, generating 240.4 billion yuan from January to November, which is an 8.5 percent increase year on year. This growth reflects the increasing demand for high-speed internet across China, as the country continues to embrace digital transformation in all sectors.
In conclusion, China’s telecommunication industry’s growth narrative in 2023 is not just a story of numbers but a chronicle of technological evolution and its integration into the fabric of society. With emerging sectors leading the charge, the industry’s upward trajectory seems poised to continue, as these technologies become increasingly embedded in the everyday lives of businesses and consumers alike.
Separately, Mordor Intelligence forecasts the China Telecom Market size is expected to grow from USD 478.92 billion in 2023 to USD 547.43 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 2.71% during the forecast period (2023-2028).
After building the world’s largest 5G network with 2.3 million 5G base stations by the end of 2022, China is on track add over 600,000 5G base stations and reach 2.9 million by the end 2023, according to new Omdia market research (owned by Informa). A key milestone in terms of China’s co-building and co-sharing 5G networks recently took place in May 2023, through the 5G network collaboration between all the four service providers in China. Under the organization and guidance of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the four major mobile operators in China – China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Broadnet, jointly announced the launch of what they claimed as the world’s first 5G inter-network roaming service trial. The service enables customers to access other telecom operators’ 5G networks and continue using 5G services when outside the range of their original operators’ 5G network.
Ramona Zhao, Research Manager at Omdia said: “Omdia expects inter-network roaming to improve operators’ 5G network coverage particularly in rural areas. Driven by better 5G network coverage, 5G will overtake 4G’s leading position and become the largest technology in China’s mobile market by 2026. By the end of 2028, we anticipate 5G will account for 65.1% of the total mobile subscriptions (including IoT connections).”
An advertisement for 5G mobile service at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Image Credit: DIGITIMES
Omdia deems China as a 5G pioneer in terms of many areas, including technology innovation, network deployment, and 5G use cases. Driven by the increasing 5G adoption, Chinese service providers’ mobile service revenue and reported mobile (non-IoT) ARPU have all achieved year-on-year (YoY) growth in 2022. China Telecom reported an increase of 3.7% in its mobile service revenue; China Unicom‘s mobile service revenue saw a YoY increase of 3.6%; while China Mobile’s mobile service revenue also increased by 2.5% YoY.
Owing to the digital transformation demand from various state-owned enterprises, cloud services are also considered a growing business for Chinese service providers.
“Omdia recommends that Chinese service providers innovate more applications through the integration of cloud and the 5G network. This will be vital to enable the digital transformation of various industries and the acquisition of new revenue streams,” concludes Zhao.
According to a previous GSMA report, dubbed “The Mobile Economy China 2023”, 5G technology will add $290 billion to the Chinese economy in 2030, with benefits spread across industries.
“Mainland China is the largest 5G market in the world, accounting for more than 60% of global 5G connections at the end of 2022. With strong takeup of 5G among consumers, the focus of operators is now increasingly shifting to 5G for enterprises. This offers opportunities to grow revenues beyond connectivity in adjacent areas such as cloud services – a segment where operators in China have recently made significant progress,” the GSMA report reads.
5G will overtake 4G in 2024 to become the dominant mobile technology in China, according to the report. “4G and 5G dominance in China means legacy networks are now being phased out. While most users have been migrated to 4G and 5G, legacy networks continue to support various IoT services. However, some estimates suggest that legacy networks could be almost entirely shut down in China by 2025,” the study reads.
Chinese vendor Huawei Technologies has secured over half of a major contract to deploy 5G mobile base stations for local carrier China Mobile, according to recent reports by Chinese media.
Huawei obtained over 50% of the total of China Mobile’s centralized procurement program in 2023.
The report also stated that Huawei will provide 5G base stations for different frequency bands. The bands ranging from 2.6 GHz to 4.9 GHz will have around 63,800 stations, divided into two projects, while the number of base stations to operate in the 700 MHz band will be 23,100, divided into three projects. ZTE was the second-biggest winner in terms of base stations, followed by Datang Mobile Communications Equipment, Ericsson and Nokia Shanghai Bell.
China Telecom do Brasil (“CTB”) today announced the launch of eSurfing Cloud services in Brazil. Through on-demand purchases that aim to simplify the process for more targeted service, the new offering provides businesses with the flexibility of accessing public and private cloud services, combined with the security and control of private cloud.
CTB’s eSurfing Cloud services enable enterprises in Brazil to take advantage of the latest cloud technologies, with the added benefit of local support and expertise. With this new offering, businesses in Brazil can optimize their cloud environments, reduce costs, and improve efficiency, all while maintaining high levels of security and compliance. The eSurfing Cloud services in São Paulo will allow customers to connect on a global multi-cloud network of more than nine public cloud nodes, 30 proprietary edge cloud nodes, and more than 200 CDN nodes.
“We are excited to bring our world-class cloud solutions to businesses in Brazil,” said Luis Fiallo, the officer of China Telecom do Brasil. “Our eSurfing Cloud services deliver flexible and scalable solutions that can meet the unique evolving needs of businesses in the region. The launch of this new offering is our continued commitment to helping our customers achieve their business goals and succeed in today’s digital landscape.”
Brazil is one of the most active cloud markets in Latin America, with high demand for the critical services that connect LATAM to the global market. Cloud adoption in Brazil has increased nearly 40% since 2019 and is expected to grow nearly 19% by 2033. While eSurfing Cloud provides customers with access to public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and edge cloud, its advantages in cloud-network integration, security, and extensive customization make it the choice digital transformation accelerator for businesses of any size.
About China Telecom do Brasil:
China Telecom do Brasil is the largest subsidiary of China Telecom Americas in Latin America and a leading provider of Internet and cloud computing services in Brazil. With a focus on customer satisfaction, the company delivers reliable, scalable, and secure solutions that enable businesses to connect their networks within Brazil and internationally, while thriving in today’s digital landscape. The company is the largest Chinese Internet provider in Brazil with network POPs and backbone connecting the state of Sao Paulo, State of Rio De Janeiro, State of Parana and State of Rio Grande do Sul to the China Telecom global network.
SOURCE: China Telecom Americas
China Telecom still banned in U.S.:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has raised mounting concerns about Chinese telecom companies in recent years which had won permission to operate in the United States decades ago. On October 26, 2021 the FCC revoked and terminated China Telecom America’s authority to provide Telecom Services in America. The FCC said that China Telecom (Americas) “is subject to exploitation, influence and control by the Chinese government.”
On December 20, 2022, a U.S. federal appeals court rejected China Telecom Corp’s challenge to the order withdrawing the company’s authority to provide services in the United States.
ZTE, in partnership with China Telecom, has released a 5G-Advanced solution, named Cluster DFS at Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. According to ZTE, the new offering will facilitate the development of specific B2B and B2C services using a single 5G network.
China Telecom claims to have deployed the world’s largest 5G SA network with more than 1 million 5G base stations based on a RAN-sharing strategy. The Chinese carrier noted it continues to focus in the B2B segment, with the number of private 5G networks hitting over 3,000, and commercial projects in this segment totaling 9,000 by the end of 2022.
Image Credit: ZTE
ZTE explained that that the new solution will be key as the service-level agreements (SLAs) requirements for the provision of 5G for industrial verticals such as smart manufacturing or smart grid are different from the requirements for the provision of 5G services for consumers. ZTE further explained that it launched the new solution given to the increasing complexity of 5G networks and to enable a coordinated development of B2B and B2C services on a single network and deliver differentiated service experiences.
To adapt to vertical application traffic dynamics on uplink and downlink, China Telecom and ZTE have introduced the innovative Cluster DFS, by which, base stations with same heavy uplink characteristics are intelligently formed as “cluster” to implement accurate adaptation between frame structure and services requirements. Consequently, a 5G network can synergize B2B and B2C services with optimal user experiences.
Li Peng, Director of Network Development and Sharing Department of China Telecom, said, “5G has become an important driving force of digital economy development. China Telecom is continuously exploring and promoting innovative technologies and solutions that combine the development of 5G high-quality networks and industrial applications.”
“Based on previous successful experience of Cluster DSS, China Telecom further extends ‘cluster-level’ radio resource management mechanism from ‘frequency domain’ to ‘time domain’, which provides more flexible radio resource strategy and promotes the development of fully-connected factories. The commercial trial of Lierda shows that Cluster DFS has increased the uplink throughput of B2B applications by 60~80% while ensuring stable B2C experiences, significantly improving network performance and efficiency, ” added Huang Lilian.
Tang Xue, VP of RAN Products, said, “B2B and B2C coordinated development on one network requires more flexible and more intelligent resource management strategy, therefore, RAN intelligence is of great importance. ZTE uses RAN native-AI to enable adaptive radio resource adjustment, including spectrum, frame structure, power and beams. With four key features, specifically, intelligent traffic prediction, cluster self-generating, intra-cluster traffic shaping and inter-cluster coordination, the potential of commercial 5G networks can be fully unlocked to offer optimal experiences for both industrial applications and consumer users.”
Cluster DFS provides precise and on-demand user experiences for both consumers and enterprises based on AI capability, enabling network policy shift from “one-size-fit-all” to “context-aware” and coordinating the development of B2B and B2C on 5G commercial networks.
Moving forward, ZTE and China Telecom will continue working together to carry out innovative practices and facilitate the development of 5G-Advanced applications for a digital, intelligent and green future.
ZTE said Cluster DFS provides precise on-demand user experiences for consumers and enterprises based on its AI capability to coordinate the development of B2B and B2C on 5G commercial networks.
China Telecom and rival network operator China Unicom had previously signed an agreement to co-build and co-share their 5G networks. According to the latest available statistics, China Telecom added a total of 5 million 5G subscribers during the first months of the year to take its total 5G subscribers base to 273 million. During 2022, the telco added a total of 80.16 million 5G subscribers.