China operators notch nearly 9M 5G subscribers ahead of launch

5G phone
Mobile operators in China are expected to simultaneously launch 5G services, reportedly sometime in October. (Getty Images)

5G commercial service has yet to launch in China, but the country’s three mobile operators have already signed up nearly 9 million subscribers in advance.

According to the Beijing News, China Mobile has 5.32 million subscribers, China Telecom hit 1.76 million subs, and China Unicom is right in line with 1.75 million users.   

RELATED: China’s carriers to build a shared 5G network

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Exactly when 5G will arrive in China is unknown, but the outlet pointed to a speculative October rollout, with all three operators launching simultaneously. In order to hasten rollouts and lower costs, China Telecom and China Unicom in late August announced they had reached a tentative agreement to jointly build and share 5G network infrastructure. China Mobile may also join in on the deal.

The three operators own China Tower, which according to a recent MoffettNathanson report, by far has the most tower sites in the world, counting more than 1.95 million. 

RELATED: China Tower counts 1.95M tower sites, dwarfing US tower sites

As part of China’s 5G build, there are ambitious plans for new base station installations. The Beijing News reports an expected 10,000 new 5G base stations in Beijing by the end of the year, the same amount in Shanghai during that time, with 20,000 built in Shanghai 2020. Guangzhou plans to have at least 20,000 5G base stations in 2019, while plans call for 15,000 in Shenzhen this year.  

In terms of pricing, operators reportedly planned to charge about 200 yuan ($28) per month for 5G subscriptions, but in response to criticism discounted 5G packages to between 140 yuan ($19.60) and 160 yuan ($22.40) per month.

Certain phones are also getting discounts, including 5G models from Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung.  Although Samsung continues phone sales in China, last week the handset maker ceased its mobile phone production operations in China as it closed its last factory in the country, according to Reuters.

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