China - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

Publication Overview

This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in China’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, broadband and converging media sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Regional market comparisons - BuddeComm's Telecom Maturity Index
  • Major players;
  • Market statistics, including for operators;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media;
  • Forecasts to 2024 for mobile, mobile broadband and fixed broadband.

Researcher:- Phil Harpur
Current publication date:- August 2019 (25th Edition)

Executive Summary

China a world leader in 5G services rollout

The Chinese telecom market is the largest in the world in terms of subscribers. China's telecommunications development has generally been driven by investments from government-allied entities and features a strong industrial policy.

As the market approaches saturation, there has been a shift of emphasis in China's broadband policy from infrastructure build-up and service provision to application creation and user demand stimulation.

The Chinese telecommunications market is undergoing a rapid transition, and this is driving a fast-developing data centre market. The Chinese data market has been driven by multinational enterprises and international service providers seeking to establish a presence there. However, the country remains largely untapped by private operators and external hyper-scale providers such as Google and AWS.

China’s fixed-line market is in decline due to voice to mobile substitution. Fixed line penetration has dropped significantly over the past five years from 18% in 2014 to 12% in 2019. This trend is predicted to continue over the next five years to 2024 driven by the growing adoption of mobile broadband.

China’s government is aiming for universal and affordable broadband coverage through investment and competition as specified in policies: Private investment in state-controlled industries, Broadband China, and Internet Plus.

Unlike the US market, where cable internet access plays a prominent role in developing the fixed broadband market, DSL was the initial driving force behind fixed broadband growth in China, followed later by EPON fibre and now GPON fibre.

Fixed broadband penetration in China has grown strongly over the past five years. Fibre broadband continues to be the fastest growing broadband segment, as DSL and cable modem access will continue to decline as customers migrate away from these platforms in favour of fibre broadband. Moderate growth is predicted over the next five years to 2024.

China’s mobile market is moving into a new stage characterised by low subscriber and profit growth. This is reflected in the slower growth in China’s overall subscriber base and falling margins as China’s three big operators resort to price competition to grow the number of subscribers or to respond to competitive threats.

By 2019, the number of mobile subscribers had reached over 1.5 billion However, growth is expected to be relatively slower due to a saturated and mature market over the next five years to 2024.

The MIIT has awarded commercial 5G licences to the country’s three mobile network operators (MNOs) – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. China Mobile brought forward plans to launch 5G services commercially, announcing that the service will go live in 50 cities by the end of 2019.

Mobile broadband has seen very strong growth in China over the past five years. Proliferation of LTE and improving affordability of smartphones is driving growth both in mobile broadband subscribers as well as the amount of traffic used per subscriber. The mobile broadband market will be driven by increasingly faster speeds offered by the mobile operators as they roll out their 4G and 5G networks and improving tariffs due to strong competition.

China has emerged as one of the most aggressive countries promoting 5G and is predicted to be one of the top four of markets that will drive the growth of 5G in Asia, and is projected to become the world’s largest 5G market by 2025.

Key Developments

  • The Chinese data centre market is undergoing a rapid transition.
  • Fixed line penetration has dropped significantly over the past five years.
  • China's government strengthens IOT policies to boost economic growth.
  • Fixed broadband penetration in China has grown strongly over the past five years.
  • Fibre has overtaken DSL to be the key fixed broadband technology platform.
  • China is projected to become the world's largest 5G market by 2025.
  • China is predicted to account for more than two-thirds of all 5G connections by 2025.

Key companies mentioned in this report:

China Mobile; China Telecom; China Unicom, Alibaba, JD.com, Baidu, Tencent

Phil Harpur
August 2019

Table of Contents

  • Key statistics

  • Telecommunications market

    • Market overview and analysis
    • Regional Asian Market Comparison
  • Regulatory environment

    • Regulatory authority
      • Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)
      • China Internet Network Information Centre
    • Government policies
      • Private investment in state-controlled industries
      • Broadband China
      • Three-network Convergence Policy
      • Internet Plus
    • Telecommunications Regulations
    • Licensing
    • Interconnect
      • Local calls and domestic long-distance calls
      • International long-distance calls
      • Internet backbone networks
      • SMS
      • MMS
    • Tariff Setting
    • Universal Service Obligation
  • Fixed network operators

    • Introduction
    • China Telecom
    • China Unicom
    • China Mobile
    • China Tower
    • CITIC Networks
  • Telecommunications infrastructure

    • Overview of the national telecom network
    • International infrastructure (satellite, submarine)
      • Terrestrial and submarine cable infrastructure
      • Satellite infrastructure
    • Data Centres
    • IT Equipment Manufacturers
    • Smart infrastructure
      • IoT
      • Smart cities
      • Connected homes
      • Connected cars
  • Broadband market

    • Market overview and analysis
    • Broadband statistics and Forecast
      • Operator broadband subscribers
    • Government Broadband Policy and Plans
    • Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) and Fibre-To-The-Home (FttH)
      • Overview
      • China Telecom
      • China Unicom
      • China Mobile
    • Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) networks
    • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) networks
      • Fixed wireless
  • Digital economy

    • Introduction
    • e-Commerce
  • Digital media

    • Introduction
    • Regulation
    • Key digital media players
    • Internet Protocol TV (IPTV)
    • Hybrid fibre coax cable (HFC)
    • Video streaming
  • Mobile communications

    • Market overview and analysis
    • Mobile statistics
      • Mobile Statistics and Forecast
      • Mobile broadband statistics and forecast
    • Regulatory issues
      • Licensing
      • Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
      • VAT Introduction
      • Roaming Charges
    • Mobile infrastructure
      • Second Generation (2G) mobile
      • Third Generation (3G) mobile
      • Fourth Generation (4G) mobile
      • Fifth Generation (5G) mobile
      • Other infrastructure developments
    • Major mobile operators
      • Operators
      • China Mobile
      • China Telecom
      • China Unicom
      • MVNOs
    • Mobile content and applications
      • Rich Communication Services (RCS)
      • Mobile gaming
      • m-commerce
      • m-banking (payments/loans)

List of Tables

  • Table 1 – Top Level Country Statistics and Telco Authorities – 2019 (e)
  • Table 2 – China Telecom financial data – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 3 – China Telecom fixed-line, fixed broadband subscribers and ARPU – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 4 – China Unicom financial data – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 5 – China Unicom – Fixed line Local access subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 6 – Fixed-lines and penetration rate – 2009 – 2019
  • Table 7 – Total international internet bandwidth – 2007 – 2018
  • Table 8 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 9 – Lit/Equipped International Bandwidth Capacity – 2013 – 2018
  • Table 10 – China Telecom - fixed broadband subscribers– 2003 – 2019
  • Table 11 – China Unicom – Fixed line Broadband subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 12 – China Mobile – Fixed Line Broadband subscribers – 2017 – 2019
  • Table 13 – Historic - Number of Broadband Access Ports, Proportion of FTTH Ports – 2010 – 2017
  • Table 14 – Historic - Number of Fibre Broadband Users – 2012 – 2017
  • Table 15 – China Telecom – FTTH Subscribers – 2013 – 2018
  • Table 16 – China Unicom – Fixed broadband subscribers – 2017 - 2019
  • Table 17 – Historic - Cable TV subscriptions and annual growth – 2008 – 2016
  • Table 18 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 19 – Historic - Mobile subscribers and annual change – 1995 - 2008
  • Table 20 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Table 21 – Mobile subscribers by operator (millions)- 2009 – 2019
  • Table 22 – Mobile subscriber market share by operator - 2009 – 2019
  • Table 23 – Mobile subscriber annual growth by operator - 2010 – 2019
  • Table 24 – China Mobile revenue, capex, EBITDA margin, net profit – 2009 – 2018
  • Table 25 – China Mobile ARPU – 2008 – 2018
  • Table 26 – China Mobile subscribers – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 27 – China Telecom mobile and 3G/4G subscribers and ARPU – 2008 – 2019
  • Table 28 – China Unicom - 4G and total subscribers – 2014 – 2019
  • Table 29 – Historic - China Unicom 2G and 3G/4G subscribers – 2002 – 2015
  • Table 30 – China Unicom – ARPU per month– 2008 – 2019

List of Charts

  • Chart 1 – Mobile, Mobile Broadband & Fixed Broadband Penetration – 2019; 2024
  • Chart 2 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index by Market Category
  • Chart 3 – Asian Telecoms Maturity Index vs GDP per Capita
  • Chart 4 – Telecoms Maturity Index – Northern Asia
  • Chart 5 – Fixed-line and penetration rate – 2009 – 2019
  • Chart 6 – Fixed Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 – 2024
  • Chart 7 – Mobile Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 - 2024
  • Chart 8 – Mobile Broadband Subscribers and Penetration (with Forecast) – 2009 - 2024
  • Chart 9 – Mobile subscriber market share by operator - 2009 - 2019

List of Exhibits

  • Exhibit 1 – Key Market Characteristics by Market Segment
  • Exhibit 2 – Northern Asia - Key Characteristics of Telecoms Markets by Country
  • Exhibit 3 – Regional/international fibre optic cable networks
  • Exhibit 4 – Selected Chinese satellite service providers and satellites
  • Exhibit 5 – China Satcom satellite fleet

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