China to reach 1 billion 5G subscribers by 2025

Shanghai 5G China

China is forecasted to reach 1 billion 5G subscribers by 2025, while the number of 5G users by 2030 is expected to reach 1.6 billion, according to a recent report by the GSMA.

The number of 5G base stations in China exceeded 2.3 million at the end of 2022, including approximately 887,000 built during the year, according to the GSMA report, dubbed “The Mobile Economy China 2023”.

In 2022, mobile technologies and services generated 5.5% of China’s GDP – a contribution that amounted to $1.1 trillion of economic value added. According to the report, 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.

According to the report, 5G will account for 88% of mobile connections in China by 2030, while 4G technology will account for the remaining 12%. By the end of this year, 5G will represent nearly 45% while 4G will account for nearly 55% of total mobile connections in the country.

“Operators in China will spend $291 billion on their networks during 2023–2030, with most on 5G Following extensive 5G network buildout over the last few years, resulting in record capex intensity in China, overall capex will begin to trend downwards in the coming years as operators turn their focus to generating returns on investment,” the report adds.

Chinese operators recorded a net gain of 25.76 million 5G subscribers in February, according to the operators’ latest available statistics.

China Mobile, the world’s largest operator in terms of subscribers, added a total of 16.6 million 5G subscribers during February. The carrier said it ended last month with 639.1 million 5G subscribers.

Meanwhile, China Telecom added 5.19 million 5G subscribers last month to take its total 5G subscribers base to 278.18 million. During 2022, the telco added a total of 80.16 million 5G subscribers.

Rival operator China Unicom said it added a total of 3.97 million 5G subscribers during last month. The carrier ended February with 219.76 million 5G subscribers.