MIIT: China’s Big 3 telcos add 24.82M 5G “package subscribers” in December 2023

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)

Operator December 2023
Month-end Total
% of Combined
Installed 5G Sub Base
December 2023
Net Change
Net Change Since
Prior Year-End
China Mobile 991.00 0.05 15.99
5G Package Subs 794.50 57.87% 15.70 180.50
China Telecom 407.77 0.54 16.59
5G Package Subs 318.66 23.21% 4.03 50.70
China Unicom Not Available
5G Package Subs 259.64 18.91% 5.08 46.91

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.

Cautionary Note:

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.

References:

https://www.marbridgeconsulting.com/marbridgedaily/archive/article/115111/chinas_three_main_telcos_add_25_mln_5g_subs_in_december_2023

https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/china-mobile-reports-surge-in-5g-subscribers-mobile-and-broadband-expansion-114257

https://en.c114.com.cn/583/a1253372.html

China 5G base station count approaches 3.4M

 

 

China Unicom & Huawei deploy 2.1 GHz 8T8R 5G network for high-speed railway in China

China Unicom Jilin, the local affiliate of China Unicom in the Jilin province, has completed the deployment of a 2.1 GHz 8T8R 5G network for a segment of the national Harbin-Dalian high-speed railway with 5G network equipment from Huawei.

Tests show that 8T8R AAUs increase the coverage area by 44% compared with 4T4R, and 5G user experience improves by 5.2 times compared with 4G. The train passengers can heartily access the network for entertainment such as HD video, live streaming, and New Calling as well as for work on-the-move such as remote video conferencing.

In 2023, China Unicom embarked on a 5G coverage project along China’s sixteen trunk high-speed railways. Its affiliate in Jilin province contributed to its share of constructing the province’s premium 5G network for high-speed railways within the provincial borders. At first, this network construction project was daunted by four serious challenges. To begin with, the distance between sites is large. What’s worse, the penetration loss was greater with high-speed railways than common railways. Additionally, high-speed mobility increased the Doppler shift, a direct cause of performance deterioration. Lastly, user experience was poor due to short camping time caused by frequent handovers (every 3–4 seconds) on trains running at a high speed of 300 km/hr.

To address these challenges, in this project, China Unicom Jilin deployed the 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU, and activated the High-speed Railway Excellent Experience feature and Cell Combination feature.

The 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU solution integrates with technologies like multi-antenna, integrated high-gain array, intelligent beamforming, and precise and fast beam sweeping. Compared with 4T4R, it improves coverage by 7.5 dB, user experience by an impressive 55%, and capacity by 85%. This solution solves the problem of poor coverage caused by large distances and large insertion loss on high-speed railways. It also uses the same antenna as the legacy 4G 1.8 GHz network, simplifying site deployment and reducing tower rental by 10%. This series of solutions with Huawei FDD beamforming technology took home the GSMA GLOMO award for “Best Mobile Technology Breakthrough” and was listed in the “Guangdong Province Energy Saving Technology and Equipment (Product) Recommendation Catalogue”, issued by the Guangdong Energy Bureau in July 2023, for its excellent performance in energy saving.

After the High-Speed Railway Excellent Experience feature is enabled, the 5G base station proactively adjusts the signal frequency to offset the negative impact caused by frequency offset. This solves the Doppler shift problem in high-speed railway continuous coverage scenarios. After Cell Combination feature is enabled, the number of inter-cell handovers can be reduced in a cell combination network, which solves the problems of fast handovers and short camping time on high-speed railways. Test results show that after this feature is enabled, the access success rate increases to 99.4% and the call drop rate decreases by 57%. This overcomes the difficulties of difficult network access in ultra-high-speed scenarios.

This commercial deployment of the 2.1 GHz 8T8R AAU solution will greatly facilitate the operator’s future plans for similar 5G rollouts. China Unicom Jilin will continue to explore 5G network deployments in different scenarios as well as innovative applications of 2.1 GHz 8T8R in order to build differentiated 5G advantages based on service requirements in various 5G scenarios.

China’s telecom industry business revenue at $218B or +6.9% YoY

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.

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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).

References:

https://english.news.cn/20231223/36996f5176e24d48a5677ddc160c99a5/c.html

China’s Telecom Sector Soars with Big Data and Cloud Computing Growth

https://www.mordorintelligence.com/industry-reports/china-telecom-market