5G powering ahead in China

The Chinese mobile operators have reported a sharp increase in 5G mobile tariff additions, with the country-wide total reaching 670 million 5G-capable tariffs as of October. While this does not represent the actual number of 5G subscribers – which GSMA Intelligence estimates is closer to 20% of the customer base – it is a barometer of the 5G addressable market.

A key plank of the 5G revenue model is tariff premiums in return for the higher speeds and service capability compared to those possible with LTE. Financial indications on this front are positive, with the Chinese operators reporting ARPU uplifts of 8–10% from 5G tariffs, in line with other countries such as South Korea. Momentum has been boosted by a number of factors, including the economic recovery from the pandemic, declining 5G handset costs, network coverage expansions and overall marketing efforts. China’s large size and network investments mean it will be among the global leaders in 5G adoption, so its progress will be closely watched, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

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