5G technology will account for almost half of China’s overall mobile connections by 2025, according to a recent study by the GSMA.

The 2020 China edition of the GSMA’s ‘Mobile Economy’ series, forecasts that China will have  an adoption rate on a par with other leading 5G markets such as Japan, South Korea and the U.S.

According to the report, China will have 807 million subscribers in the 5G segment by 2025, while 5G subscriptions in North America and Europe will reach 205 million and 235 million respectively.

Chinese operators are expected to invest over $180 billion over the next five years in network capital expenditures, roughly 90% of which will be on 5G networks.

“China is leading early adoption in 5G and has already built more than 160,000 5G base stations covering more than 50 cities as operators aim to expand standalone 5G network coverage and capacity,” said Sihan Bo Chen, head of greater China for the GSMA. “Unlocking the benefits of these next-generation networks, flexible policies, including for spectrum and infrastructure, are strategically important to support China’s ongoing transformation into a fully-fledged digital economy.”

The report also said that China will account for 70% of global 5G connections in 2020.

GSMA’s report noted that 4G is by far the dominant mobile technology across China, accounting for more than 80% of total connections (excluding licensed cellular IoT). However, 4G’s share will have its peak this year (at 82%) as 5G grows significantly.

The study also highlighted that Chinese enterprise will also benefit of the 5G rollouts in the country.

“Globally, the key benefits of 5G other than speed gains ( network slicing, edge computing and low-latency services) are not widely appreciated, with many companies believing 4G is ‘good enough’. But China is a clear exception. Early partnerships and trials from local operators have paid dividends, as evidenced by the widespread intent among companies in the country’s industrial sector to utilise 5G. Chinese operators are also leading the charge for standalone (SA) 5G, which will help deliver the key benefits of 5G for enterprises,” the report stated.

China was one of the first markets globally to launch 5G services, and consumer interest was high. “The country’s three mobile operators received more than 10 million registrations of interest for pre-orders of 5G packages and smartphones prior to launch. While not all of these have translated into actual connections (5G connections approached 5 million across China by the end of 2019), consumers in China are among the most excited by the prospect of 5G – more so than those in the US and Europe.”

In June 2019, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) officially issued licenses for the launch of commercial 5G networks in the country. Those 5G permits were granted to China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and state-owned broadcaster China Broadcasting Network.


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