China now has almost 850 million 5G subscribers

Ray Le Maistre
By Ray Le Maistre

Apr 22, 2022

  • China’s 5G uptake has been dramatic
  • Massive investments in radio access network upgrades and expansion have paid off
  • The country’s three network operators had 848.1 million 5G customers at the end of March
  • And they have more than half a billion fixed broadband subs between them too

China has been very focused on 5G and fibre broadband network rollouts for the past few years in an effort to build a national high-speed broadband platform than can support all manner of digital service developments, and that focus has paid off because by the end of March this year, the country’s three main mobile operators had signed up 848.1 million 5G customers between them.

That is an astonishing number: That’s way more than twice the population of the US (about 334 million), almost double the entire population of the European Union member states (448 million). And it means China has a 5G penetration rate of about 60%.

China Mobile is the largest 5G operator, as you’d expect, with 466.6 million 5G customers, about 55% of the total. (It has 967 million mobile subscribers in total.)

China Telecom has 210.8 million 5G customers, almost 25% of China’s 5G subs market, while China Unicom has 170.7 million, just over 20% of the total. 

The fixed broadband subs numbers are also impressive.

China Mobile has 249.1 million, China Telecom has 173.1 million, and China Unicom didn’t break its number for the first quarter, but had more than 95 million at the end of 2021. That’s more than 500 million in total.

In financial terms, China Mobile is by far the largest of the three operators. Its first quarter operating revenues totalled RMB227.3 billion (US$35 billion), up by 14.6% year-on-year.  

China Telecom reported first quarter operating revenues of RMB119.6 billion ($18.4 billion), up by almost 12%, and China Unicom reported operating revenues of RMB89 billion ($13.7 billion), up 8.2% year-on-year. 

- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV

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