Despite it still being in its early stage, 5G deployment in China is aggressive, allowing the country to be prepared to maintain/advance its position as the world's leading industrial manufacturing nation and be ready for the next generation of the industrial revolution. ABI Research, a global tech market advisory firm, forecasts the 5G subscriptions in the Chinese market are expected to reach 739 million by 2025, which nearly takes up 40% world market share. In terms of the annual mobile data consumption, the 5G annual data traffic in China will reach 782 Exabytes by 2025, which has nearly 60% share of the world's total 5G data consumption.
"Unlike other early adopters, such as South Korea, the United States, Finland, Japan, and many others, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in China are owned by the government, which allow them to receive extensive support for developing the 5G networks especially in the consumer market," says Jiancao Hou, 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure Senior Analyst at ABI Research. "From a spectrum perspective, the MNOs received 5G spectrum licenses for tests and trials in 2018, giving them the great opportunity to plan the best network deployment strategies and be ready for the 5G commercial launch in the following year." Moreover, “The current trade war and the ban of the Chinese domestic vendors isn’t slowing down 5G deployment in China, at least over the next 2 to 3 years, given its level of 5G deployment momentum.”
According to ABI Research analysis and Chinese infrastructure vendor statistics, as of October 2020, 690,000 5G base stations in total have been deployed, and terminal connections have reached over 160 million. China Unicom and China Telecom are jointly deploying their standalone (SA) 5G RAN infrastructure and sharing radio frequency resources. On the other hand, China Mobile will continuously promote a dual-mode solution, i.e., Non-SA and SA, to better support international roaming, and its collaboration strategy with China Broadcasting Network is under discussion. Distributed Antenna Systems for indoor network deployment will continue for an extended period while small cell technology will be widely used to improve network capacity and coverage especially for mid and high band 5G spectrum. China Mobile is leading in the 5G enterprise business in China. Different industrial enterprise verticals will rely on MNOs to help deploy cellular networks due to spectrum attribution concerns.
“There is no clear strategy guideline for promoting local licensed spectrum access or unlicensed and shared spectrum use in the Chinese telco market at the current stage,” Hou points out. Besides, “Considering the comprehensive fiber deployment across the whole country, Fixed Wireless Access and mmWave deployment may receive limited attention, except for traffic offloading in hotspots.” Moreover, the ban of the Chinese vendors' development from other countries may stimulate the revival of the domestic supply chain in the Chinese market, and all tiers of MNOs, and many telco companies in China, show great interest in the Open RAN approach,” Hou concludes.
These findings are from ABI Research's 5G in China application analysis report. This report is part of the company's 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Application Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.
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