Yesterday, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology released their annual State of Industrial and Communication Development report for 2018. Three tidbits worth your attention:
- The country’s mobile consumers used an average of 6.25GB in data traffic per month, an increase of 2.3x over the previous year. (To put that in context, a June 2018 report by Ericsson puts North America’s data traffic at 7.2 GB per mobile user, per month.)
- Of those users who have access to broadband, 70.3% of them are using 100MBps or above, an increase of 31.4 percentage points over 2017.
- China has 1.17 billion users on 4G, accounting for 74.4% of total mobile users, a 4.2% increase. (Though unspecified in the initial report, 1.17 billion is probably user accounts, not individuals).
Why it matters
Data traffic has seen a little jump since China Unicom unveiled the country’s first unlimited 4G plan back in February 2017.
If 70.3% of broadband users are on 100MBps or above, that means 29.7% of them are on 100MBps or below. That’s right. Load times are still a significant issue.
4G coverage rates get very interesting in light of the US and China battle to be first out the door with commercial 5G. But launching 5G a couple of months early is unlikely to give China a whole lot more than bragging rights (WIRED):
Roger Entner, a founder of Recon Analytics … concedes that it might not matter much if the US introduces 5G a few months later than China. Europe was quicker to roll out 2G, and Japan was the first with 3G, but that hardly deterred Apple and Google from dominating the smartphone market. But Entner argues that if China beats the US by a year or two, it could damage the US’s ability to compete in the global technology market.
Consider that China’s commercial 4G coverage was launched at the tail end of 2013. Five years later, coverage has just reached the three-quarter mark. So, the launch date matters less than which country can roll out the infrastructure to support widespread adoption.
- MIIT’s “2018 State of Industrial and Communication Development” (2018年工业通信业发展情况) as reported by Huanqiu Tech.
- Ericsson: Mobile Data Traffic Growth Outlook, June 2018
- Wired: Does it Matter if China Beats the US to Build a 5G Network?