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COVID-19 and 5Geopolitics failed to derail China’s ascension and 5G aspiration

April 2021

LightCounting releases its China Wireless Infrastructure & Macroeconomics Update

April 15, 2021 -- LightCounting’s latest report provides an update on 5G developments in China, including macroeconomics, geopolitics, and technology. The predictions made last year that China’s economy would be the only major one to grow in 2020 and that 5G rollouts would go as planned turned out to be true.

“In fact, Chinese consumers could not travel abroad and spent their money at home, which kept the economy on track, and China over-delivered and exceeded its 5G base stations (BTS) target. China is now home to more than 70% of the world’s 5G BTS footprint,” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research.

Our major findings in the report are:

- China was the only economy to grow in 2020 while the U.S. posted its worst year since the end of World War II. This also suggests that China remains on track to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy in the 2026-2028 timeframe because COVID-19 reset the GDP race between the U.S. and China.
- China added more than 900k combined 4G and 5G BTS in 2020, driving total capex up by 11% YoY—5G capex grew 327% YoY.
- China’s RAN market rose more than 30% YoY, and Huawei and ZTE commanded a combined market share greater than 75% for 2020.
- This year, we expect the same level of 5G activity as last year.
- In the mid- and long-term, our model shows lumpiness and bumpiness through 2026, which we predict will be the year China kicks off 6G.
- Overall, we expect no changes in the U.S. administration’s stance against China and that further motivates China’s 5G ecosystem to keep up with the 5G race, build up self-sufficiency and pave the way to 6G. But there will be still severe headwinds and challenges.

About the report:
LightCounting’s China Wireless Infrastructure and Macroeconomics report focuses on 5G developments in China, including macroeconomics, geopolitics, and technology. The publication date is scheduled a few weeks after the 4 services providers (e.g., China Broadcasting Network, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom) provide their interim reports so that we can gather many details about 1H21 and provide a 2H21 outlook and a 5-year forecast. This report also includes RAN vendor market shares and analysis.

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