5G in China - statistics & facts

As the latest generation of cellular network technology to reshape our interactions with mobile devices, 5G has been a highly anticipated technology. Apart from faster mobile internet connections, 5G will also enable the connectivity of diverse gadgets, which together make 5G the basis for a lot of key technological trends, such as autonomous vehicles, Internet-of-things (IoT), and cloud computing. In 2020, there were around 236 million mobile 5G subscriptions worldwide, which was forecasted to surge to almost two billion by 2024. Among all the countries in the world, China was forecasted to lead the way in terms of the number of 5G connections throughout the next five years, where the market revenue will skyrocket from 0.6 trillion yuan to over six trillion yuan in this decade.

Rocky road of innovation

One reason behind the popularity of 5G in the country would be the technological advancements brought by the Chinese tech giant Huawei. Most well-known for manufacturing smartphones, Huawei has dominated the 5G smartphone market in China and has been investing into cloud technologies and corresponding infrastructures in order to maintain its market leadership in the tech industry. As of February 2020, Huawei owned the largest share of 5G patents globally, followed by Qualcomm and yet another Chinese telecom company, ZTE.

However, due to the sensitive nature of such technology, Huawei has faced various obstacles in expanding into the overseas 5G market, especially since more and more countries started to recognize 5G infrastructures as a key aspect of national security. Many have halted pilot projects or collaborations with Huawei, with a few of them announcing to ban Huawei from participating in the local 5G infrastructure market.

5G shaping the future

Within the country, 5G development is already quite mature. According to surveys, a majority of Chinese citizens expected the 5G network to arrive in 2020 and to have a significant impact on daily life. Since the introduction of 5G smartphones to the market in the third quarter of 2019, over 23 million units have been sold in the following three quarters in China, showing a high affinity towards the new gadget. In terms of infrastructure, the number of 5G base stations reached 1.15 million in 2021, covering over 293 cities, most of which were planned in the eastern coastal regions such as Guangdong, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu.


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