Growth opportunities for Chinese service providers

China recently launched the world’s first 5G inter-network roaming service trial

According to Omdia research, China, after already establishing the world’s largest 5G network with 2.3 million 5G base stations by the end of 2022, is set to further expand its network. It is projected to add over 600,000 5G base stations, reaching a total of 2.9 million by the end of 2023.

A significant milestone was achieved in May 2023 when China’s four major mobile operators—China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Broadnet—collaborated under the guidance of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to launch the world’s first 5G inter-network roaming service trial. This service allows customers to access other operators’ 5G networks and continue using 5G services even outside their original operator’s network coverage.

Omdia expects that inter-network roaming will enhance 5G network coverage, particularly in rural areas, thus driving the adoption of 5G and surpassing the leading position of 4G in China’s mobile market by 2026. By the end of 2028, it is anticipated that 5G will account for 65.1 per cent of total mobile subscriptions, including IoT connections.

China is recognized as a 5G pioneer by Omdia, showcasing advancements in technology innovation, network deployment, and 5G use cases.

The growth in 5G adoption has positively impacted the mobile service revenue and average revenue per user (ARPU) for Chinese service providers. In 2022, China Telecom reported a 3.7 per cent increase in mobile service revenue, China Unicom saw a 3.6 per cent YoY increase, and China Mobile experienced a 2.5 per cent YoY increase in mobile service revenue.

Additionally, Chinese service providers are exploring opportunities in cloud services due to the demand for digital transformation from various state-owned enterprises. Omdia suggests that Chinese service providers should focus on integrating cloud services with the 5G network to drive innovation, enable digital transformation in various industries, and capture new revenue streams.



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