GSMA: China to reach 822 million 5G subscribers by 2025

Shanghai China

China is expected to have 822 million 5G subscribers by 2025, up from 202 million subscribers at the end of last year, according to a recent report by the GSMA.

The report, called “The Mobile Economy China,” also estimates that 5G connections by 2025 will represent 47% of total mobile connections in China, surging from current 12%.

According to the GSMA, China will be one of the leading countries in terms of 5G adoption by 2025, only behind South Korea, with a penetration of 5G of 67%, the U.S. (55%), and Japan (50%).

In terms of 4G connections, China will have a total of 911 million subscribers by 2025, down compared to the current 1.31 billion.

“Due to the rapid take-up of 5G in China, the region sits among the global leaders in terms of adoption. In 2020, the region added more than 200 million 5G connections, taking its share of global 5G connections to 87%. Growth in 5G adoption in the region is supported by aggressive network rollout and a growing device ecosystem. Chinese operators deployed around 600,000 new 5G base stations in 2020 and have announced plans to deploy more than that number during 2021,” according to the GSMA report.

“Meanwhile, 5G networks now cover more than 90% of the population in Hong Kong and Taiwan, making both markets among the first in the world to reach that milestone.”

The report also states that mobile operators in the China region will invest nearly $210 billion in their networks between 2020 and 2025, of which 90% will be dedicated to 5G. In mainland China, operators are deploying 5G infrastructure rapidly. According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), the combined build-out of dual-mode 5G base stations increased by around 200,000 in the last quarter of 2020, taking the total to more than 700,000. “Elsewhere, mobile operators in Taiwan and Hong Kong have also stepped up 5G investments, targeting up to 99% population coverage within the next two years.”

“Chinese operators are at the forefront of efforts to trial and bring to market innovative and cost effective infrastructure deployment models, such as network sharing. China Telecom and China Unicom have jointly built and currently operate over 320,000 5G base stations across China – the world’s largest commercial 5G network sharing agreement –covering more than 300 cities. The move has helped the operators to save RMB60 billion ($9.3 billion) in capex, as of September 2020, with the potential to help save another RMB270 billion ($41.8 billion) over the next five years,” GSMA said.