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Despite severe economic woes, China is pursuing its economic ascension and securing its 5G superpower status

July 2023

LightCounting/TÉRAL RESEARCH release its China Wireless Infrastructure & Macroeconomics Update which provides an update on the 5G radio access (RAN) developments in China, including macroeconomics, geopolitics, and technology factors.

China’s zero-COVID-19 policy is backfiring, and as a result, GDP quarterly growth has been very lumpy over the past 18 months. However, on an annual basis, GDP growth seems to be on track to hit the 5% YoY target this year, mainly driven by a favorable industrial output expansion. As China is the world’s most advanced 5G country with the largest footprint and subscriber base, there is a good reason to believe that its economy is benefiting from the use of 5G in many verticals. The 3 Chinese service providers have consistently reported revenue growth driven by cloud infrastructure, Internet of Things, and tens of thousands of 5G projects across multiple industrial sectors. 5G, and soon 6G, remains at the center of China’s economy shift from industry to services.

Without the solid expansive telecom infrastructure, China’s economic ascension would have never happened. As 5G is the key enabler of China’s digital economy, 5G rollouts remained steady in 1H23 so did private 5G wireless network deployments across many industrial sectors.” said Stéphane Téral, Chief Analyst at LightCounting Market Research and Founder of TÉRAL RESEARCH.

Our major findings in this edition of the China Wireless Infrastructure report are:

  • Since the telecom restructuring of 2009, 3 major service providers -- China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom -- have emerged with a combined 2G/3G/4G/5G base station (BTS) footprint of more than 10M and a combined total of 2.7M 5G base stations as of July 5, 2023, according to China’s MIIT.
  • As China is ahead of its 5G footprint target, we expect the current 5G bands RAN market to start to decline this year and continue to do so in the long term.
  • 2024 will see millimeter wave and reconfigurable intelligent surface (RIS) systems trials and proof-of-concepts followed by potential rollouts in 2025.
  • 2026: 6G rollouts start, whatever will be called 6G. In fact, some standard bodies are already considering RIS as a 6G technology.
The China Wireless Infrastructure report is available for download by LightCounting clients.

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