The industry association said 5G connections in China are expected to 460 million by 2025

China’s mobile ecosystem added CNY5.2 trillion ($750 billion) in value to the country’s economy in 2018, equivalent to 5.5% of China’s GDP last year, according to a new GSMA report.

China’s mobile ecosystem directly and indirectly supported 8.5 million jobs last year and made a tax contribution to the public finances of government of CNY583 billion. The economic contribution of the mobile ecosystem in China is expected to expand to CNY6 trillion by 2023, the GSMA predicts.

According to the report, China ended last year with 1.2 billion unique mobile subscribers, representing 82% of the country’s population.

More than two thirds (69%) of mobile connections in China are smartphones, with smartphone adoption expected to reach 88% of connections by 2025.

“After spending billions over the last decade deploying 4G networks to all corners of the country, Chinese mobile operators are now set to invest a further CNY401 billion ($58 billion) over the next two years to prepare for and begin 5G rollouts, laying the groundwork for China to become one of the world’s leading 5G markets,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA

The study also revealed that 77% of China’s connections are currently running on 4G networks.

At the end of 2018, the number of cellular IoT connections in China reached 672 million, accounting for more than 90% of IoT connections in Asia Pacific and 60% of IoT connections globally. By 2025, China is expected to reach almost 1.9 billion cellular IoT connections, with growth driven by various industry vertical applications, GSMA said.

5G deployments

Following large-scale launches of 5G services from 2020, China will host the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, where operators plan to deploy technologies such as facial recognition and virtual reality video streaming based on 5G networks.

The GSMA highlighted that China is set to become one of the world’s leading 5G markets with 460 million 5G connections by 2025, which would account for 28% of China’s total connections by this point.

The report stated that mobile carriers in China are currently evaluating the pros and cons of standalone and non-standalone models for 5G. China Telecom has confirmed its preference for a standalone architecture, which would require the construction of a new network, including base stations, backhaul links and a core network.

Regarding the country’s plans for the provision of 5G spectrum, the industry association said that “both the government and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) appear to recognize the need to ensure the timely release of spectrum and promote its efficient use.”

The MIIT has issued test licenses for 5G trials in the 2.6, 3.5 and 4.9 GHz bands. In 2019, the MIIT will also issue temporary 5G network licenses in some cities.

“With the increased need for spectrum to support high data traffic and new innovative services in a 4G and 5G world, China should continue to evaluate new spectrum and appropriate conditions, especially in mmWave frequencies, to support sustainable growth as 5G coverage expands,” GSMA said.

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