More than 110 million users in China have signed up for the 5G plans, the Telecom Watchdog announced at an industry event on Wednesday, the chairman of the China Academy for Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a think tank under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The number of users is still a small fraction of the total membership. In June, China’s three state-run carriers collectively ordered some 1.6 billion mobile customers (China’s 1.4 billion population, owned by one mobile device per capita).
China’s 5G ambition is a multi-pronged effort between the government, network carriers, telecom equipment manufacturers, device manufacturers and software developers. Policymakers need to see improvements in network speeds to consumers, and such carriers are setting up 5G base stations across the country at very high speeds – more than 460,000 towers have been installed by July.
In July, an official said that China is adding 15,000 new 5G base stations on an average every week. The government plans to increase that number to 600,000 by 2020 covering all prefectural-level cities in the country. A clear winner in bringing China’s 5G forward is Huawei which makes both the 5G device and the infrastructure that is a next-gen network.
Meanwhile, Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, and their rivals are racing to launch 5G handsets. According to data recently released by CAICT, China has sold over 93 million units of 5G mobile phones so far this year. In August, 60% of phones in total shipments were 5G.
China’s quick change to 5G is also meeting the need for new hardware parts like integrated circuits. The country produced more than 100 billion units of ICS during the first half of 2020, representing a 16.4% year-on-year profit, an industry official said in July, adding that 5G-related projects were in great demand.