China passes half a billion 5G subscriptions and adds at least 190k new 5G base stations in six months

Carriers are sharing kit to preserve cash – now for the private 5G boom


China had over half a billion 5G subscribers and over a million 5G base stations as of June 30, but the nation's big three mobile carriers have warned of a slowdown.

The Register's numbers come from repeating our exercise from March 2021, when we pored over annual reports from China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile, to find a total of 322 million 5G subscribers and 1,150,000 operating base stations.

As of yesterday, the three mega-carriers have all announced their results for the first half of the year, so we've repeated the exercise. Here are the results:

Carrier 5G subs total (millions) New 5G subs in 2021 (millions) 5G base stations New 5G base stations 2021 Total subscribers (millions)
China Mobile 251 86 501,000 111,000 946
China Unicom 121 42.2 460,000 80,000 310
China Telecom 131 44.5 460,000 80,000 362
Totals 503 172.7 1,421,000* 271,000 1,618

All three carriers also reported improvements in average revenue per user, revenue growth of nine per cent or more, and big profits. All reported billions of yuan spent on infrastructure.

Impressive, right?

Maybe not so much. For starters, China Unicom and China Telecom have accelerated their infrastructure-sharing arrangements, hence our asterisk on the total of operational base stations in the table above – the carriers are probably managing that many units, but there are fewer physical units in place.

The two have also started sharing their 4G infrastructure.

China Mobile is also collaborating on network builds. It teamed with China Broadcasting Network Corporation to share a network operating in the 700MHz band.

China Unicom reported decreased capital expenditure as a result, as did China Telecom. Supply chain issues were one reason for the dip, but the sheer scale of the existing 5G rollout and collaboration were also factors.

All three carriers were bullish about winning many more 5G subscribers, especially by targeting corporate customers.

China Mobile, for example, signed 900 contracts for provincial-level 5G projects and 452 deals for dedicated 5G networks. ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading
  • American diplomats' iPhones reportedly compromised by NSO Group intrusion software

    Reuters claims nine State Department employees outside the US had their devices hacked

    The Apple iPhones of at least nine US State Department officials were compromised by an unidentified entity using NSO Group's Pegasus spyware, according to a report published Friday by Reuters.

    NSO Group in an email to The Register said it has blocked an unnamed customers' access to its system upon receiving an inquiry about the incident but has yet to confirm whether its software was involved.

    "Once the inquiry was received, and before any investigation under our compliance policy, we have decided to immediately terminate relevant customers’ access to the system, due to the severity of the allegations," an NSO spokesperson told The Register in an email. "To this point, we haven’t received any information nor the phone numbers, nor any indication that NSO’s tools were used in this case."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021