Research insights
China 5G subscriber market keeps growing, says Digitimes Research
Benson Wu, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

The 5G subscriber market has continued growing steadily in China, with its 5G connected devices in use on track to grow to 185 million units by year-end 2020, having reached 66 million units in the first half, Digitimes Research estimates.

After building over 400,000 5G base stations in first half-2020, Chinese telecom operators as a whole will install another 250,000-300,000 such base stations in the second half of the year, Digitimes Research indicates.

To mitigate the financial pressure for 5G infrastructure buildups, China Mobile has reached a deal to share its 5G networks with China Broadcasting Network (CBN), while China Telecom has also teamed up with China Unicom for network sharing.

Combined capital expenditure of China's top-3 telecom operators – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom – totaled CNY88 billion (US$13.094 billion) in first-half 2020 and is to expand to CNY180 billion by year-end, representing an increase of 338% from a year earlier.

Despite heavy investments for 5G network construction, the three telecom operators have yet to see meaningful improvements of their financial results in terms of ARPU (average revenue per user), EBITDA and EBITDA margin for migrating into 5G from 4G.

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