The Mobile Economy China 2021

1.22
bn

people subscribed to mobile services in 2020. This is 83% of the region’s population, against the global average of 66%.

47
%

of connections in China will be on 5G by 2025. Between 2020-2025 90% of operator capex will be invested on 5G,
equivalent to $210bn.

$
197
bn

in operator revenues by 2025, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 2.0%, reversing a negative trend during 2014–2019.

Mobile networks have been instrumental in providing connectivity to sustain social and economic activities through the Covid-19 pandemic. In China, mobile data traffic volume jumped 40% in March 2020 compared to the same period a year earlier, but despite this surge, networks largely remained resilient underlining the significant investments in advanced networks by operators in recent years. In 2019 and 2020 alone, operators in China invested a cumulative sum of $78 billion, equivalent to a fifth of revenue, on average.

The pandemic has also presented a test platform for a wide range of 5G-enabled solutions. Due to the rapid take-up of 5G in China, the region sits among the global leaders in terms of adoption. In 2020, the region added more than 200 million 5G connections, taking its share of global 5G connections to 87%. Growth in 5G adoption in the region is supported by aggressive network rollout and a growing device ecosystem. Chinese operators deployed around 600,000 new 5G base stations in 2020 and have announced plans to deploy more than that number during 2021. Meanwhile, 5G networks now cover more than 90% of the population in Hong Kong and Taiwan, making both markets among the first in the world to reach that milestone.

Mobile operators play a key role in efforts to achieve key objectives of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), primarily by delivering connectivity and access to life-enhancing services, but also by enabling sustainable development through their business and operational activities. In China, mobile operators are increasingly taking steps towards, and making investments in, energy-saving solutions. This has the potential to reduce emissions and support the global transition towards a zero-carbon economy.