Sunday 14 March 2021

China Telecom's 5G and IoT Progress

China Telecom's 2020 results were published this week. The PDF of that is available here. Capacity Media reported:

China Telecom has reported 2020 revenues up by 4.7% on the year with earnings up 1.4%.

The company said its revenues were 393.6 billion renminbi in 2020 — equivalent to US$60.7 billion. EBITDA was 118.9 billion renminbi, said the company, equivalent to $18.3 billion.

Meanwhile the company said that “5G achieved a promising start, with 86.5 million people now subscribing to 5G packages, 24.6% of the company’s mobile customers. “The number of mobile subscribers reached 351 million with net addition of 15.45 million, and the market share expanded to 22.0%.”

The small print of the company’s revenue breakdown show that 5G customers are spending on average 65.6 renminbi ($10.11) each, compared with 44.1 renminbi ($6.79) for mobile customers as a whole.

RCR Wireless said

China Telecom expects to increase investments in 5G infrastructure this year with the aim of almost doubling the number of base stations in the country, the company said in its annual report.

The Chinese carrier said it has earmarked a total of CNY39.7 billion ($6.1 billion) for 5G capex, slightly up from CNY39.2 billion in 2020.

Last year, China Telecom, together with rival operator China Unicom deployed 300,000 5G sites across China and ended 2020 with a combined 380,000.

For 2021, China Telecom said it expects to reach a total of 700,000, offering full 5G coverage in all counties and in certain developed towns, rural areas, railway lines and highways.

At the end of 2020, the telco had a total mobile base of 351 million mobile subscribers, up 4.6% year-on-year. The operator added an average of 6.83 million 5G subscribers a month to end 2020 with a total of 86.5 million. China Telecom had commercially launched 5G services in late October 2019 and closed that year with 4.6 million subscribers.

In 2020, 5G subscribers generated ARPU of CNY65.60 compared with CNY44.10 for its overall user base, which experienced a decline of 3.7% year-on-year.

But the most interesting bit was on IoT as can be seen from this Tweet

Ibraheem Kasujee, IoT Analyst at Analysys Mason noted that, IoT connections reached 237.6m (+50.9% on 2019), but IoT revenue was 'only' CNY2.2 billion (USD338 million), +16.9% on 2019. Implies a monthly ARPC of < USD0.15. Tom Rebbeck, Partner at Analysys Mason noted that China Telecom’s IoT division has (roughly) twice as many connections as Vodafone, and generates (less than) half the revenue.

The annual report points out that, "IoT includes mobile data traffic, SMS, value-added services & applications related to IoT, other IoT Projects, etc."

We will have to wait and see how many of these are 2G/3G IoT vs 4G NB-IoT/LTE-M.

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