With the commercialisation phase of the next-generation 5G network officially underway, Chinese consumers are expected to account for one-third of 5G-enabled handsets globally within five years, according to research agency Canalys.
Greater China, including mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, will account for 34 per cent of 5G smartphone shipments in 2023, followed by North America at 18.8 per cent and Asia-Pacific at 17.4 per cent, according to a Canalys research note released this week.
The research agency also expects that 5G-enabled handsets will reach nearly 800 million units by 2023, accounting for 51.4 per cent of all smartphone shipments, exceeding 4G smartphones within five years of 5G’s global commercial launch.
5G is also expected to lead global smartphone market expansion in 2020 after an overall decline in the market this year, according to Counterpoint, a Hong Kong-based research agency.
In a report last week Counterpoint said China would dominate the global 5G smartphone market, with its share of 5G shipments above 30 per cent in 2020, up from an estimated 25 per cent this year.
Following South Korea, the US, Australia and the UK launched initial commercial 5G mobile services in the second quarter.
In early June Chinese telecoms carriers China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, as well as cable network operator China Broadcasting Network, were granted commercial 5G licences by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, marking the official commercialisation of the next-generation network in the world’s largest smartphone market.
Noting that Chinese 5G licenses were granted a year earlier than planned, Nicole Peng, vice-president of mobility at Canalys, said the role of the Chinese government and the joint investments of operators and equipment suppliers were critical to the earlier launch date. Government initiatives to accelerate 5G are a powerful drivers for faster roll-out in some markets such as China and the US, she said.
“5G smartphones will see rapid adoption in China, thanks to a strong government technology road map and operators’ financial capabilities. China is also home to many major 5G equipment suppliers and smartphone vendors, which will be responsible for an aggressive marketing push over the next few years,” Peng said, adding that mass-market adoption of 5G smartphones did not necessarily mean a successful 5G deployment as the technology is much more complex than the previous generation.
In 2020, one year after the commercial launch, Canalys forecasts that 17.5 per cent of smartphones shipped in China will be 5G-capable, and this percentage will rise sharply to 62.7 per cent in 2023.
China Mobile, the world’s largest telecom operator, announced on June 25 that it would provide 5G service to more than 50 Chinese cities this year, and extend that to all prefectural-level cities by the end of 2020.
Huawei’s Mate20 X series phones have received the first licence to access China’s 5G network, the company announced this week. The 5G versions of the Mate20 X are expected to become the first devices supporting the next-generation network to hit the Chinese market, and will support both stand-alone (SA) and non-stand-alone (NSA) 5G networks. Other major Chinese smartphone vendors such as Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi have also mapped out plans to introduce 5G phones later this year.
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