China’s three major telecom operators added a total of 28.1m 5G users in Jan
Published: Feb 22, 2022 08:57 PM
5G Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

5G Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

Statistics from China's three major telecom operators show the number of users adopting 5G data packages kept soaring in January, with the three carriers adding a total of 28.1 million users in the month, key to laying the foundation for the next-generation internet technology to achieve efficiencies of scale soon.

China Mobile's 5G users hit 401.27 million as of January, rising from 387 million at the end of 2021, according to an announcement the carrier filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) on Monday. 

Current levels of 5G adoption accounted for 41.7 percent of all China Mobile users, according to calculations done by the Global Times. 

China Telecom, another major carrier, said the number of its 5G users grew by 8.26 million in January to 196.06 million.

China Unicom added 5.57 million 5G users in January. The total number of 5G users linked to the carrier hit 160 million, accounting for roughly half of the company's total user base. 

Although some people may have multiple accounts with different carriers, the latest statistics show the technology is gaining more popularity among Chinese users. 

"There is rising demand among users to adopt 5G, as most newly launched smartphones in 2021 and 2022 were 5G devices. There isn't a problem for 5G users at China Mobile to account for 60-70 percent [of its total users]," Ma Jihua, a veteran telecommunications industry analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

In November 2021, an official from China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said that the number of China's 5G users stood at 450 million, accounting for more than 80 percent of the estimated global user base. 

Ma said this showed China's leading position in the global landscape of 5G applications.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Graham Allison, a professor of government at Harvard University, said in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that "America is far behind in almost every dimension of 5G while other nations - including China - race ahead."

According to the MIIT, nearly 1.43 million 5G base stations had been rolled out in the country by the end of 2021, forming the world's largest 5G network and accounting for over 60 percent of the number of global 5G base stations. The ministry said that there are about 10 5G base stations for every 10,000 people in China in 2021, double the level at the end of 2020. 

"As the 5G development enters a new stage, a goal for Chinese carriers is to cover the network of rural China… Another task is to introduce more applications of 5G," Ma said, noting a new government project called "eastern data western calculation" to store and process more digital data in China's western provinces would help. 

Global Times